King County Executive proposes centers to help reduce youth detention | KUOW News and Information

King County Executive proposes centers to help reduce youth detention

Mar 20, 2017

King County executive Dow Constantine is calling for the creation of two new centers to help keep young people in King County out of jail.

In his annual State of the County address Monday, Constantine proposed two facilities, "Safe Spaces," which would provide services to young people dealing with challenges like homelessness, expulsion or low-level run-ins with the law.

"Safe Spaces where police can bring a youth accused of a lesser offense instead of to booking and detention,” Constantine said. “There will be connections to housing, to education and to the services youth and their families need to get back on track."

Constantine said the centers would be staffed 24 hours and would provide food, clothing and even temporary housing.

The proposal comes as Constantine and other officials continue to face criticism over plans for a new youth detention center.

Constantine said the leaders of King County are committed to juvenile justice reform. But, he said, changes need to be made outside the justice system too. "To approach zero youth detention we need to answer this question, how do we get to zero dropouts or zero expulsions? How do we keep every kid in school?"

Officials are currently looking for sites for the proposed Safe Spaces facilities. Constantine said one center would be located in Seattle and the other in South King County.

No information on funding has been provided yet.

Constantine also addressed issues of homelessness and a rapidly aging population in his speech Monday.

He also reiterated the phrase, "You belong here," throughout the speech, emphasizing the desire for a diverse and welcoming community in King County.