King County Executive Dow Constantine abruptly canceled a live State of the County address this month after demonstrators who want to stop the county from building a new youth jail showed up. Later the same day, Constantine announced that programming for the county’s existing youth jail would be taken over by its public-health agency.
Those are the latest developments in a yearslong struggle between advocates and critics of the Children and Family Justice Center, a new juvenile courthouse and detention center under construction in Seattle.
On Episode 77 of The Overcast, Dean Spade sits down with hosts Daniel Beekman of The Seattle Times and Simone Alicea of KNKX 88.5 to explain the No New Youth Jail campaign.
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Spade is an associate professor of law at the Seattle University School of Law who teaches policing and imprisonment, among other topics. Spade also is a prison abolitionist active in the No New Youth Jail campaign. He believes incarceration is unhelpful and wrong.
“We are creating health problems by putting youth in jail,” Spade said, adding: “Putting people in cages almost never results in healing for the person who did the harm or making the person who has been harmed whole. The question is, what does?”
He says community alternatives to incarceration and restorative-justice programs are an answer. Such strategies, sometimes controversial, already have helped the county reduce how many kids it keeps behind bars, though black youth are now even more over-represented than they once were.
Also discussed: Why did voters approve funding for the project in 2012? Where did the No New Youth Jail campaign come from? And why are activists targeting Constantine?
This episode was recorded at the Seattle studios of public radio 88.5 FM KNKX as part of an ongoing partnership.
Support the locally owned, independent journalism that makes this podcast possible by visiting seattletimes.com/support.