For more than five years, thousands of people in Seattle have fought to oppose the construction of a new $210 million youth jail in Seattle’s Central District, the city’s historically African-American neighborhood. People from all walks of life--Black and brown people, criminalized people, queer and trans people, students, healthcare workers, anarchists, youth, social workers, migrants, clergy members, Raging Grannies, teachers, 75+ community organizations, and more--have mobilized month after month since 2012 to reject the idea that any young person should be in jail and to demand that the City and County abandon the new youth jail project. Here are 12 points against the new youth jail.
This project was not approved by King County voters.
21% of registered voters in King County approved the tax levy to fund the new youth jail. The remaining 79% of registered voters either voted against the measure or did not vote. The measure would have received even less support than 21% of registered voters if the ballot had made it clear that it was funding a new jail for kids.
This project is an old-fashioned back-room land swindle.
The real purpose of this project all along has been to allow three large parcels of land in the Central District to be sold cheaply to King County Council/Seattle City Council members’ friends and families. These three large parcels of extremely valuable Seattle real estate have been deemed “surplus” by the County, which in reality means they are going to make tons of cash for developers and profit-mongers.
This project claims that Washington is required by law to maintain cages for children.
This is factually untrue. In Washington State, it is illegal for children to be incarcerated in facilities with adults. There is no legal requirement that the State maintain incarceration facilities for children.
This project is being pushed by King County judges who believe that they are entitled to more luxurious facilities.
The judges have long demanded fancier courtrooms and nicer private chambers for themselves. The judges’ area in the proposed new jail is actually larger than the detention center.
Sleazy politicians are turning against this project now that it’s clearly underway.
Mayor Murray came out with statements against the youth jail at the same time that he was secretly pressuring others to continue moving the project forward. City councilmembers who repeatedly voted to approve the jail are now crying crocodile tears and wringing their hands about the harms of youth detention. We know their eyes aren’t full of tears but instead are concentrated squarely on saving their reputation with the voters in this election year.
This project is so fucking racist.
Black, Native, and immigrant youth are targeted by Seattle’s jail. Any claims of being a “Hate Free State” or a “Sanctuary City” are completely contradicted by the rates at which we lock up our Black, Native, and immigrant children.
Nationally and locally, 12% of young people are sexually assaulted each year while in jail, mostly by guards.
Putting children in jail is emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive. We pay the salaries of those who abuse, humiliate, and violate our young people while they are caged away from their families and communities.
The company attempting to build this jail (Howard S. Wright) is owned by an international corporation (Balfour Beatty) that makes billions of dollars building prisons and detention centers worldwide.
Balfour Beatty has built hundreds of jails around the globe. We should reject this corporation and refuse to let them make a profit in Seattle off the jailing and abuse of our children.
The gentrification and now techieficiation of the Central District, Seattle’s historically Black neighborhood, is well-documented. This has been a civically-supported and politically-funded decimation of the Black community.
Already more than 56% of the Black residents of the CD have been pushed out of the neighborhood between 1990 and 2010. Whether through red-lining, weed and seed, or abusive and racist police profiling, Seattle has been complicit in the destruction of Black lives.
Seattle’s claims to be progressive and a liberal oasis are a lie.
The progress offered here is only available to the wealthy, the white, and the well-behaved. Our city is not a sanctuary city if poor people are unwelcome; if houseless people are constantly attacked and maligned; if the police can kill with impunity; if undocumented people are pursued by ICE and rounded up into detention centers; if there’s no affordable housing.
The site of the project is on stolen Duwamish land.
And the Duwamish people don’t build prisons for children.
Given all this, this is what is required moving forward:
-The sculpture The Spirit of Our Youth by indigenous artist Marvin Oliver that was removed in January 2015 must be fully restored and returned to its original site.
-All buildings comprising the current youth jail must be demolished immediately and the land returned to the Duwamish people.
-Every young person inside the current youth jail must be released immediately with their record cleared and paid financial reparations for the harms they experienced while imprisoned.
-The City of Seattle must return to Black people all lands and homes stolen during the era of “Weed and Seed” in the Central District.
-Claudia Balducci, who has been the public face of this project, is fired immediately and barred from holding any further jobs in government due to her racism, malevolence, and outright lack of ethics. Dow Constantine, the King Couny Executive pushing the new youth jail, is fired immediately. Mayor Murray is removed from office. All members of the Seattle City Council and the King County Council who have voted for the youth jail in years past admit their culpability and immediately step down.
-King County immediately places the $210 million dollars previously tied to the new youth jail under the authority of formerly incarcerated youth and youth of color, who will have complete control in determining how to spend the money in ways that will benefit their families, schools, communities, and lives.
Mondays in March: Call the Juvie Contractors and Tell Them to Fuck Off!
Last month the city of Seattle approved the selection of a design-build team
that will make millions of dollars off of designing and building a new youth
jail at 12th and Alder. Howard S. Wright, HOK and Integrus all proudly
exclaim long résumés filled with examples of jails, prisons and police
stations that they have built and profited from.
While the prison-industrial complex seems like an overwhelmingly large and
abstract structure to try to resist, there are real people who sit in
ergonomic chairs clicking away at computer screens on which they are building
models of prison cells. There are men in suits who pick up telephones and
make deals for the delivery of the materials that will build the walls,
offices, and security systems of the new jail.
Each Monday during the month of March please join us in calling, emailing,
and/or faxing the real people who are responsible for creating the
infrastructure that destroys the lives of millions. Let them know what you
think, urge them to consider the implications of their choices, or just tell
them that you think they are fucking disgusting and ask them how they sleep
Why a call in day?
Because these companies stand to make enormous amounts of money off of this
project, it is unlikely that they can be convinced to back out of their deal
with the city. Since we can’t convince them not to build the jail, it might
make sense to make it as inconvenient and annoying as possible to complete
the project. This will not only make it more likely that those working on the
project will get burnt out, it also shows companies that would invest in
similar future projects that it may not be worth their money. Tying up the
phone lines and inboxes of a few bureaucrats for a day may seem like a small
inconvenience, but we hope that it can be one obnoxious fly among many
buzzing in their ears and biting at theirs heels.
Please call the offices listed on the following dates between the hours of 9
am and 5 pm PST. Pass this information along to anyone who might be
interested, you don’t have to live in Seattle to call these people and let
them know what you think!
MONDAY, MARCH 9th
Howard S. Wright/Balfour Beatty
Dan Peyovich, Washington Division President
MONDAY, MARCH 16th
Todd Buchanan, Seattle Branch Leader
MONDAY, MARCH 23rd
Larry Hurlburt, CEO
Here are a few scripts that you can use
When you call, they may ask you your name. You can give your real name, but
we recommend making one up! It’s more fun!
Hi, My name is _________ I am calling to urge you to cancel your contract
with the city of Seattle to build a new youth jail at 12th and Alder.
Building a new jail will not address the problems faced by youth in this city
and will seriously contribute to maintaining deep racial inequality. Building
a new jail will only hurt our communities. Please stand against racism and
inequality by canceling your contract to build the new jail.
Hi, my name is ____________ I am calling to tell you that I think that you
are disgusting sack of human excrement. How do you sleep knowing about the
thousands of lives you've built cages for? Inside the walls that you design
people who are worth much more than you will be beaten regularly. You are no
better than the colonizers who built the plantations. You are their closest
relative. Fuck off, you scum.