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Rimon and his mom

Learn more about the journey toward Zero Youth Detention

Rimon and his mother both invested in the first King County Juvenile Court felony case to be resolved through a peacemaking circle, a process inspired by Native American traditions.

All youth in King County deserve to grow into happy, healthy adults. Research shows that youth have a better chance at positive adulthood when they don't interact with the juvenile legal system. Zero Youth Detention calls for partnering with youth, families, and communities and building on their strengths so that communities are safe, legal system involvement is limited or avoidable, and all youth have the opportunity to be happy, healthy, safe, and thriving.

The Road Map to
Zero Youth Detention

The Road Map to Zero Youth Detention is King County's strategic plan to not only further reduce the use of secure detention for youth, but to launch this County on a journey to eliminate it.

Building on 20 years of reducing the secure detention population, this region begins the journey to Zero Youth Detention with momentum. Informed by youth and their families, communities, and employees whose work touches the lives of youth, the Road Map outlines practical solutions designed to improve community safety, help young people thrive, keep them from entering the juvenile legal system, divert them from further legal system involvement, and support strong, unified communities.

A Public Health approach to Zero Youth Detention

In November 2017, the King County Executive called for using a public health approach as part of King County’s commitment to review juvenile detention and advance the goal of zero youth detention. Through this approach, community and system partners come together to promote the positive development and well-being of all youth, expand the use of the best evidence and promising practices on adolescent development, and ensure that the collective response to youth in crisis restores them on a path towards well-being.

Public Health – Seattle & King County is leading through a trauma-informed lens. This means that the strategies and actions in the Road Map will respond to the impacts of trauma and adversity in the lives of youth involved in the juvenile legal system and those who have been harmed when crimes occur. Building protective factors, resilience, and making other supports available help to mitigate the impacts of trauma.

Restorative Justice

A key component of Zero Youth Detention is accountability for harmful behavior that happens swiftly and in a restorative way. The concept of restorative justice brings together those harmed by criminal behavior, those who cause the harm, and the larger involved community to discuss how they have been affected and what should be done to repair the harm. When done most effectively, restorative justice is a community-based approach to accountability, safety, and healing.

The Road Map has five overarching goals, outlined below.

Zero Youth Detention Data Dashboard

Collecting and analyzing data has long been the focus of reforms in the juvenile legal system in King County.

Zero Youth Detention data dashboard

ZYD Implementation Dashboard

The ZYD Implementation Dashboard tracks projects and actions to get us closer to Zero Youth Detention.

Zero Youth Detention Implementation Dashboard

Objective 1: Lead

Objective 1: Lead

Lead with racial equity. By leading with racial justice in the work of Zero Youth Detention, all stakeholders involved with the juvenile legal and other youth-serving systems are being called to commit to addressing systemic institutional racism and bias and to align efforts through this deeply challenging work. Learn more on the blog.

Objective 2: Prevent

Objective 2: Prevent

Prevent youth from entering the juvenile legal system by focusing upstream and on systems to have the greatest impact. This objective recognizes that strong partnerships between youth and families, schools and communities, and the County are needed to enhance positive youth development and position youth on a path toward success. Learn more on the blog.

Objective 3: Divert

Objective 3: Divert

Divert youth from further law enforcement, formal legal processes, and secure detention into community based options. This objective calls on legal system partners and community to work together to create an effective continuum of community-based approaches, accessed at different points in the juvenile legal process, that provide for community safety and for the developmental needs of youth. Learn more on the blog.

Objective 4: Support

Objective 4: Support

Support youth and families to reduce recurrence of legal system involvement and increase healthy outcomes. The objective recognizes that young people who remain in their own community have better outcomes after contact with the juvenile legal system. When community-based resources are not a viable option and a young person must be placed in secure detention as a last resort, family engagement and reentry supports are essential. Learn more on the blog.

Objective 5: Align

Objective 5: Align

Align and optimize connections between systems to increase effectiveness. When systems work together, the people they serve benefit. This objective recognizes that youth and families are often served by multiple systems and more can be done to coordinate between and among these systems. Learn more on the blog.

The Judge Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center

Until the need for secure detention of youth in King County is eliminated, it is necessary to have a developmentally appropriate physical environment that better meets the needs of youth in detention than currently exists. The Judge Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center will replace the outdated Youth Services Center. As the County continues to drive reductions in the use of secure detention for young people, the detention housing in the new facility will convert to transitional units and community use space.

The facility will feature:

  • An environment focused on restorative spaces, supportive services and integration of volunteer community programs
  • Childcare facilities for those on Court business
  • 100 fewer beds than the existing detention facility
  • Space for courtrooms
  • Meeting rooms
  • Resource center

More about the Judge Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center.

Further resources