County Council transforms how juveniles are detained in King County

Monday, December 11, 2017

County Councilmember
Rod Dembowski
County Council votes to implement restructure mission of Children and Family Justice Center and juvenile justice in King County 

The Metropolitan King County Council voted Monday to implement the recommendations of: Working to Reduce the Use of Secure Confinement, a report by Dr. Eric Trupin, as policy guidance to transform the County’s approach to juvenile justice and the construction of the Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC).

“Earlier this year, Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell and I called for a rethinking of the new youth jail,” said Council Vice Chair Rod Dembowski. “This report recommends major changes to the construction and operation of the new youth jail. I hope the Executive and County will take Dr. Trupin’s recommendations to heart and implement them.”

Councilmember Larry Gossett, who played a key role in the implementation of the County’s Juvenile Justice Operational Master Plan (JJOMP), said,

“Over the last decade, we have worked to create a ‘paradigm shift’ in the treatment of young people and people of color in the criminal justice system. Accepting these recommendations is the vital next step in that shift. We must give youth the tools they need to succeed if we’re serious about our goal of zero youth detention.”

Voters approved the construction of the CFJC in 2012. As the County shifted its focus toward achieving zero youth detention Dr. Trupin, a professor at the University of Washington and Vice-Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, reviewed several aspects of the new facility with an emphasis on:
  • The impact of trauma on youth and the need to incorporate best practices into facility design,
  • Staff training and interactions with youth in detention to better understand our current and future facility needs regarding a therapeutic environment for youth, including services and spaces in the facility,
  • Existing services in juvenile detention and how they could be better aligned with our community alternatives to detention and Safe Spaces proposal.

Trupin’s report made several recommendations in how the CFJC can be used to help the county in its transition into a zero detention future:
  • A continuing focus on alternatives to incarceration,
  • Prioritizing expansion or development of programs to eliminate racial disparities,
  • Incorporating trauma-informed care to all parts of the juvenile justice system,
  • Increasing collaboration with community and faith-based organizations to improve outcomes for youthful offenders. 

The legislation approved by the Council Monday makes the recommendations in Trupin’s report a framework for implementation and calls on the County Executive to work in partnership with our Courts, Prosecutor and Public Defender to deliver on our juvenile justice reform policies and goals.


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