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Juvenile delinquents

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Juvenile delinquents

Ghlezian Gonzales, Staff Writer

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Can you imagine kids being put into prison? This could be the future for King County as the city plans the building of more youth jails to incarcerate young people. This raised outcry among our community and many have spoken out towards this issue. 

Instead of spending tax money on youth jails that only function as holding cells for young people, the city should spend money on programs aiding those same children. The impact of these programs guarantee the well-being of those children better than any jail cell can. We can also promote the lifelong wellness of these children throughout the community. 

Is a costly building the solution to an ongoing issue?

The $210 million-dollar youth jail will replace the one in central Seattle, with voters being told it would assist families in crisis. This will ultimately prove ineffective because the city uses traditional and outdated methods to prevent youth from infiltrating the justice system based on the fundamental belief that incarceration equates to reparation. The price of the building is also most likely to be $15 million dollars over the estimated price of the budget, which went untold to voters.  

The new youth jail will only be a continuation of a system already proven to be unsuccessful.

In 2016, it was shown that police only referred a measly 23% of juveniles held in youth detention centers. So how should we implement change our system? By allowing juveniles to understand their actions and reflect “contemporary understanding”. In doing so, the youth incarceration rate has dropped 75% from an average 200 juveniles being incarcerated a day, to only 50. 

Incarceration has no beneficial effects on juveniles.

Delante Howerta, an inmate in one of King County’s jails, writes, “I have spent many years locked up starting at the age of 13… At that age being locked in a cell for hours at a time doesn’t help ‘rehabilitate’.”

This tells people the detrimental effects that these facilities have on the adolescent mind. What’s next? 

Some say that youth jails will provide resources for juvenile teens.

According to Komo News, “The county said the jail, which is expected to open in the fall of 2019, will offer courtrooms, community space, places for families to meet and a chance for victims to engage with offenders for restorative justice. The new building will even have a yoga room, according to the county.”

Nonetheless, this offers no effects of prevention and rehabilitation for the youth. We spend 60% more money on the prosecution of juveniles than we do on programs that could potentially end the system of adolescents getting locked up. 

A solution to the problem? A drastic change in juvenile policies and abandoning incarceration altogether.

While it will cost over $223 million dollars to build a new youth jail, only $4 million dollars are being used to aid in programs to rehabilitate these children, with $1.4 million of those dollars being used to keep track of the research in the statistics of incarcerated children in King County. 

Implementing this idea into our community will help improve the lives of many children and adolescents because they will be affected in the long term. Together, we can spread awareness of this issue and change our society altogether. 

 

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Juvenile delinquents