Reform doesn’t happen overnight. That doesn’t mean it can’t be impressive to look back at how much progress can be made in just one year. In 2017, King County continued to step up its investments and commitments to eliminating the school-to-prison pipeline:

  • Safe Spaces: King County set in motion partnerships with organizations across the County to open up more safe, non-detention overnight spaces for struggling youth. More beds will be opening up in South King County in early 2018.  
  • Stopping the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Best Starts for Kids hired on a project manager for its Stopping the School-to-Prison Pipeline project area, invested in a pilot diversion program for youth involved in theft cases, and accepted grant applications from community groups committed to reducing youth interaction with the juvenile justice system.
  • Rhonda Berry to organize Road Map to Community Safety and Effective Alternatives to Detention: King County Executive Dow Constantine appointed Deputy Executive Rhonda Berry to lead a multi-agency team from a new position at Public Health – Seattle & King County, ensuring juvenile justice reform work incorporates science and evidence-based approaches with a lens on the impact of trauma on youth.
  • Public Health lens coming to juvenile justice programs: Public Health – Seattle & King County and its partners will work with community on a reform plan that will improve training support for staff who work with youth in detention, expand innovative programs and alternatives to detention, and ensure that transitions out of detention are linked to an overall plan for each youth’s success.
  • Community partnerships: King County continued to build partnerships with community and child advocates who bring unique life experiences and expertise to their work with youth:

When 2016 juvenile justice data was revealed earlier this year, it showed King County continued to not just make steady progress on reducing youth interaction with the system — it made unprecedented progress. The launch of programs like Family Intervention and Restorative Services (FIRS) led to record drops in the juvenile detention population and reduced racial disproportionality for the first time in recent memory, not just locally, but nationally.

Since 1998, King County’s juvenile detention population has dropped more than 70 percent. We’re looking forward to another year of progress in connecting more youth with better support and making our communities safer in 2018.