King County Executive unveils roadmap for closing controversial youth jail, ending juvenile detention

Oct 8, 2021, 8:18 AM | Updated: 10:54 am
youth detention, jail...
Seattle's new Children and Family Justice Center. (Hanna Scott, KIRO Radio)
(Hanna Scott, KIRO Radio)

King County Executive Dow Constantine unveiled the first phase of his plan to close down the Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC) youth detention facility, with the goal to end juvenile detention by 2025.

Crowd marches to King County Executive’s home Thursday

The CFJC has been a flashpoint in King County since construction on the facility first began. That was a period marked by mismanagement and cost overruns, alongside criticism from several local leaders over what they believed to be an outdated approach to juvenile rehabilitation.

Just a year after it opened, Constantine announced his intention in July of 2020 to convert the CFJC to other uses and move away from centralized youth detention. Now, he has released what’s expected to be the first of two reports he hopes will help the county achieve those outcomes.

The report details a timeline that would have the county hire a board project manager for the project by the end of October, form an advisory committee by the end of 2021, hire consultants in the spring of 2022, and then submit a proviso to the county council by June 30.

After a period of community engagement as well as a handful of work sessions and stakeholder interviews, the timeline will then move into 2023, which will largely be made up of further community engagement efforts and collaboration with the advisory committee to incorporate that input into final recommendations by the end of that year. The hope is to then begin implementing those recommendations in 2024.

Is there truly a road map to zero youth detention?

“Our plan will succeed only with the support of every partner — from governments to communities,” Constantine said in a news release. “We resolve that this hard work is worth it, and with community-wide support, we will deliver on our promise to close the centralized detention wing of the CFJC by 2025 while protecting youth and the public.”

Constantine’s report released this week points to data between 2010 and 2020 that shows that while “King County now has one of the lowest detention rates in the State of Washington, youth of color continue to be overrepresented in secure detention.”

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King County Executive unveils roadmap for closing controversial youth jail, ending juvenile detention