Policy updates from state legislative session

In February, we wrote about the 2019 Washington State legislative session bills that King County staff and partners were supporting as a part of Zero Youth Detention. One of the Road Map’s primary objectives is to align and optimize connections between systems, and this includes pushing for policy reform that improves the lives of youth and families and reduces legal system involvement.

The legislative session just wrapped up and two bills with Zero Youth Detention support passed:

  • Senate Bill 5290 will prevent youth being sent to detention for noncriminal offenses, such as skipping school or running away from home, a move courts can currently turn to in cases where they’re concerned for the young person’s safety. Advocates are looking at how to expand community supports and safety resources for youth who are truant or runaways.
  • Senate Bill 5429 revises the Juvenile Justice Act of 1977 to allow state funding for evidenced-based programs to be used for eligible youth at their initial contact with the legal system (prior to adjudication), including referrals from law enforcement.

Other bills we backed weren’t passed into law:

  • Senate Bill 5182, which proposed courts hold periodic hearings for youths’ records to be sealed upon completing their responsibilities to the court and/or turning 18 for lesser non-violent or sexual offenses, did not pass. We’ll continue to work with our policy partners to track this and other policy goals ahead of the next state legislative session.

Thank you to our amazing community partners, including The Mockingbird Society, Treehouse, and Justice for Girls Coalition, who researched, organized, advocated and testified to pass these bills.

To read more about the work to get these bills passed, and why policy change is so important to Zero Youth Detention, check out our February 2019 blog post: Supporting Policy that Supports Zero Youth Detention.