Tag Archives: juvenile

Decreasing juvenile incarceration

King County’s juvenile detention numbers have gone down since the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is more that can be done! In June, we joined a coalition of over 40 community organizations and leaders, including elected officials, in co-writing a follow-up letter to the King County Council calling for more action to release, with supports, the approximately 30 youth incarcerated in the county detention center, most of whom are awaiting the outcome of their cases.

Thank you to TeamChild for sharing this letter that we signed onto.


picture of person in shadows who is incarcerated, behind bars

Legislative Update

I’ve taken Faith Action Network’s Report and boiled down the items that are of particular consequence for the incarcerated:
• I don’t see anything on LFO’s. That bill (legal financial obligations) was stuck in budgeting. We will have to see the budget to know if it made it all the way through.
• Mental Health Funding (about $40M) – Washington’s mental health system got funding for more staff, particularly at our state’s largest mental health hospital, to help provide better care and reduce the boarding of mentally ill people.
• Housing and Homelessness (about $13M, particularly to address youth homelessness)
• Post-Secondary Education in Prisons – Sen. Mike Hewitt was ‘bound and determined’ to see that, even though his bill (SB 6260, concerning post-secondary education in prisons) was stalled in the Senate, a proviso (amendment) that captured the essence of his bill got into the final budget that was adopted Tuesday night.
Please send him a thank you message for this effort: mike.hewitt@leg.wa.gov.
This proviso will only be in effect for the remaining year of this biennium.
• HB 1553 – Walkinshaw: known as the Certificates of Restoration of Opportunity (CROP) bill, will establish a program that will reduce the chance of someone coming out of our prison system to recidivate.
• HB 1682 – Fey: known as the Homeless Student Stability Act, will begin a voucher system in our public schools to give homeless students and their households more stability, therefore allowing them a better chance to succeed in school.
• SB 5342 – Hasegawa: known as the Human Trafficking Definition bill, will expand how our state legally understands human trafficking in terms of enforcement. Particularly, this defines human trafficking taking place not only in the sex industry but also in the labor industry. The state attorney general’s office will be a key focus for the implementation of this.
Please send a thank you email to the prime sponsors for any one or more of these bills.

Human Relations Day Grant Awarded to Pacific Northwest Conference Agency

A grant to fund MAP: My Action Planning for Incarcerated Youth has been awarded to Rev. Terri Stewart and the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition by the General Board of Church and Society. The Coalition, which is a task force of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, works with incarcerated youth in King County and Washington State detention facilities. With the MAP program, Rev. Stewart envisions training volunteers to mentor youth so that they transition out of detention with the skills and confidence they need to stay out and build productive lives.

MAPs allow youth and a trained mentor to come together and see where the youth has come from, who they are now, and who they want to be. Pictured is an exercise that shows an actual map of important life events illustrating who a youth was. We train mentors to be mirrors for the youth so they can see the absolute sacred worth that they have as children of God. Mentors also reflect and identify gifts and talents for youth who are often labeled worthless. These youth are not their crime.

Our goal is to recruit 30 new mentors and to create a solid 12 hour program that can be taught in a retreat format or in one-on-one mentoring. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Rev. Stewart at 425.531.1756 or YCC-Chaplain@thechurchcouncil.org.

The grant allows for the time, travel, and recruiting efforts of new volunteers. The Youth Chaplaincy Coalition still needs additional funding in order to pay for the supplies that mentors and youth will use. We plan on mentoring 120 youth this year. That is a supply cost of about $25 per youth. If you feel like sponsoring a youth, please contact Rev. Stewart at 425.531.1756 or YCC-Chaplain@thechurchcouncil.org or mail a donation to the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition, PO Box 18467, Seattle, WA 98118.

The materials and experience resulting from this pilot program can be used in other facilities across the US. Funds for Human Relations Day Grants come from the United Methodist Special Sunday offering received on Human Relations Day in January.

Christmas Thank You Note Excerpts

This afternoon, I was handed a pile of thank you notes for my small part in helping the youth in detention have a better Christmas. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and amazed at the honesty of the youth. I’d like to share a few excerpts.

“You gave us a better Christmas and more hope.”

“This was my second time having Christmas in my 14 years of life. And it was one of the best ones.”

“You don’t know how happy it makes me to know someone has taken the time out of their life to make me a happy person on Christmas.”

“It was so touching to know someone cares about the ones that sometime feel forgotten.”

“I have not had a Christmas in 5 years. You guys made my day with the gifts you got. I really am thankful.”

“Growing up Christmas never meant much to me. It was just another day of another month of another year. I’ve found that I don’t look forward to this time of year. Being in jail I thought this time of year could not get much worse but yet waking up on Christmas morning I still had hope. Hope because I had heard what Christmas is like in here but I did not want to let myself believe it…I cannot begin to describe to you the overwhelming joy and happiness that came over me. Because of you my Christmas was made and to me it did not matter what gifts I got, it was more meaningful to me that someone cared enough to help someone else out.”

That’ll preach.


Thoughts About Juvenile Law in WA State

This is a quandary in Washington state and is wrapped up in state constitutional protections, law, and what we consider being in the best interest of the state and it is something I’m working with and am perplexed at this moment in time. It makes for great thought, I think…

In Washington state, public records are open constitutionally. This includes youth records. Technically including kids arrested, gone through dependency hearings, etc. (abused kids could find their records plastered all over). The way it works right now is that youth can work to seal their records over time as long as they accomplish a checklist. This is a bit like shutting the barn door after the horse has escaped because data/electronics means the records are out there. PLUS, Washington state sells the youth records to background check firms while they are still minors.

There is support in both houses to make youth records confidential. Confidentiality is better than sealing because it shuts the door before the horse is out. Sealing shuts the door afterwards.

But in order to make youth records confidential, the IT system has to be updated to accommodate some change in the record in the database that doesn’t make sense to me because making another field in a database really isn’t that hard. BUT whatever, the fiscal note is that it would take $500,000 do make an IT adjustment to attach to the confidential record bill that is currently in play. This would also, according to the IT people, stop the current and planned upgrade in its tracks and put all the IT people onto this problem and not on the upgrade.

There is thoughts of tweaking the bill to do the confidentiality thing but to implement in 5 years.

All in all, this is making me nuts. It seems so simple. (1) Don’t sell youth records. (2) Let’s just treat kids like kids and make their records confidential.

The upshot is that to make the lives and opportunities of youth that are in the most marginalized group (impoverished, undereducated, incarcerated), we could simply make their records confidential so it is easier for them to get a job and to get into college.

The interesting points, now that you’ve slogged through my current issue (and you thought be a chaplain was all spiritual God stuff!):

Where do we draw the line of competing interests such as state/child? And where does it stop being a “state” interest (open records) and it is being transformed into a “corporate” interest (credit bureaus, rental agencies, and newspapers are buying the records)? Is there a difference between state interests and corporate interests? Do you have an assumption that youth’s records are protected?

Where should the line be drawn?

Long Term Juvenile Incarceration

Have you seen OJJDP’s study on long term incarceration of juveniles?

Just a few key points:

Finding #1: Longer stays in juvenile facilities do not reduce reoffending; institutional placement raised offending levels in even those with the lowest level of offending.

Finding #2: Adolescents who have committed serious offenses are not necessarily on track for adult criminal careers.

Finding #3: Substance use is a major factor in continued criminal activity by serious adolescent offenders.

Upcoming Event: Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

Dr. Joy DeGruy author of “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome”

to Speak at the Edmonds School District Thursday 10/24, 7-9:30 p.mFrom Darlene Flynn, City of Seattle:

“Hello all,

In collaboration with the Edmonds School District, The Hazel Miller Foundation, Communities of Color Coalition and Families of Color United In Service (FOCUIS), I am excited and proud to let you all know we will be hosting Dr. Joy DeGruy author of “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome” to Speak at the Edmonds School District Thursday October 24th 7-9:30 p.m.

This event is FREE and seating is limited.

The Edmonds School District is located at:

20420 68th Ave W Lynnwood, WA 98036 (just south of Edmonds Community College)

Dr. DeGruy is the foremost expert on Black historical trauma and its effects on the community today.

Dr. DeGruy’s presentation is a call for us all to identify the manifestations of trauma, a call to healing and a call to action.

We look forward to you seeing you Thursday October 24th from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Edmonds School District!

For more information on events like this, please join FOCUIS on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/EAACH2012?ref=hl

Daniel VanArsdale
Director of Families of Color United In Service (FOCUIS)

Upcoming Events / Juvenile Justice Zine Release Party

Juvenile Justice Zine release party thrown by WISH

(Washington Incarceration Stops Here),

Friday, 10/11 7-10pm, at Queer Youth Space (upstairs at 911 E. Pike Street).
Full invitation from WISH as follows:
“I am writing to let you know that WISH has just finished compiling a great zine – Plan A – featuring poetry, art, and articles presenting a vision for alternatives to the new youth jail and juvenile courts.

“We will be having a zine release party on Friday, October 11th, and would love it if you and your members (and anyone else you think may be interested) can attend. The party will be at Queer Youth Space from 7-10pm. It will feature a short program, including speakers discussing WISH and poetry from zine authors, followed by lots of music, dancing, and refreshments! Although we won’t have any formal tabling, please feel free to bring any materials from your organization that you would like to share. You can click on the links below to see the facebook event page and the new postings to WISH’s blog:  https://www.facebook.com/events/219384354892998/http://nonewyouthjail.wordpress.com/

The members of WISH

Youth in Adult Prisons

From a study by the NCJRS:

Major findings:

  • Approximately 107,000 youth (younger than 18) are incarcerated on any given day.
  • Of these, approximately 14,500 are housed in adult facilities. The largest proportion, approximately 9,100 youth, are housed in local jails, and some 5,400 youth are housed in adult prisons.
  • Of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, 44 house juveniles (age 17 and younger) in adult jails and prisons.
  • In recent years, the number of youth in jails has escalated, while the number in prisons has stabilized or declined.
  • The actual number of youth who experience incarceration in an adult prison is much higher than the number shown by a 1-day count, with an estimated 13,876 juvenile state prison admissions in 1997. There are no current estimates of the number of youth admitted to jails each year.
  • In terms of their legal status while incarcerated, 21 percent were held as adjudicated juvenile offenders or pretrial detainees, and 75 percent were sentenced as adults