Skip to main content
Most King County offices will be closed on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 23-24, 2017, for the Thanksgiving holiday.  
King County logo

News

King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Executive Order: Youth charged as adults to be housed at the Youth Services Center

Summary

King County Executive Dow Constantine signed an Executive Order to move youth charged as adults from the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent to the Youth Services Center, a facility in Seattle better able to offer age-appropriate programs and services.

Story

In an Executive Order signed today, Executive Constantine directed that all youth under 18 who have been charged as adults will be housed at the Youth Services Center on East Alder Street, subject to discharge of full bargaining obligations with unions. Females under 18 and charged as adults are currently housed at the Youth Services Center.

Youth now at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent will be transferred to the YSC as logistics allow. Five youth have been transferred as of Oct. 26. Fifteen youth currently remain at the Maleng Regional Justice Center.

By March 1, 2018, no youth will be housed at the Maleng Regional Justice Center, except under emergency situations.

By state law, 16- or 17-year-olds are automatically charged as an adult if they are charged with a violent offense such as murder, manslaughter, rape or other crimes. In certain circumstances, the juvenile, the prosecutor or the court may make a motion to transfer the juvenile to adult criminal prosecution.

The Youth Services Center has staff and programming better able to meet the needs of youth. Services include:

  • A King County library branch
  • Full-service school that includes summer courses. Youth are typically in class for six hours per day
  • Programming with volunteers that includes creative writing, improv and gardening
  • Mental health and adolescent clinic provided by physicians from Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington
  • Developmentally appropriate discipline based on adolescent brain science

“King County’s leaders are united in pushing forward with the best ideas in juvenile justice reform. By moving youth charged as adults to the Youth Services Center, we are able to offer age-appropriate programs and services to help them get back on track,” said Executive Constantine. “This is just one reform of many, including creating more alternatives to detention and investing in the resolution of family challenges. As our work continues, we will do everything we can to help young people overcome the struggles of adolescence and the burdens of history."


Frequently Asked Questions

In certain circumstances state law requires the automatic transfer of youth ages 16 and 17 charged with certain felonies including but not limited to: murder, first-degree assault, first-degree robbery, first-degree rape of a child, drive-by-shooting, first-degree burglary. Such transfers are identified as “auto declines.” There is also “discretionary declines” where the prosecutor, the juvenile or the court may make a motion to transfer the juvenile to adult criminal prosecution.
The Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention is still investigating the allegations made by Columbia Legal Services. However, the recent lawsuit filed by Columbia Legal Services, has highlighted what we have known: there is a difference in services provided to juveniles housed at the Maleng Regional Justice Center relative to the Youth Services Center and we have the opportunity to offer juveniles currently housed at the Maleng Regional Justice Center more services at the Youth Services Center.
We have previously stated a long-term goal of housing declined juveniles at the new Children and Families Justice Center, once it is operational by 2020. In the meantime, the county’s Juvenile Justice Equity Steering Committee has been looking at options, costs and implications of accelerating implementation of this goal.
When Columbia Legal Services filed their lawsuit there were 19 declined youth at the Maleng Regional Justice Center. Youth now at the Regional Justice Center will be transferred to the Youth Services Center as logistics allow. Five youth have been transferred as of Oct. 26, 2017. Fifteen youth currently remain at the Maleng Regional Justice Center. By March 1, 2018 no youth will be housed at the Regional Justice Center, except under emergency situations.
Policy requires that youth held at the Maleng Regional Justice Centerget a minimum of 6.5 hours outside of their cells per day and youth in restrictive housing receive three hours outside of their cells per day. Youth Services Center utilizes a Behavior Management system that allows youth to earn Tier Levels based on positive behavior which increases their programming time outside of school and gym. Base Level youth will be out of their dorms approximately 8.75 hours a day, Tier 2 – 9.5 hours Tier 3 – 9.75 hours and Honor Levels – 10.75 hours. During the week, instead of programming time during the day, they attend school for 6 hours. This time also includes 1 hour of gym.
The Youth Services Center has staff and programming better able to meet the needs of youth. Services include:
  • A King County library branch
  • Full-service school that includes summer courses. Youth are typically in class for 6 hours per day
  • Programming with volunteers that includes creative writing, improve, and gardening
  • Mental health and adolescent clinic provided by physicians from Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington
  • Developmentally appropriate discipline based on adolescent brain science
We currently estimate that the Youth Services Center needs about $75,000 of capital investment to open two additional units. This work can be done with existing funds set aside for maintenance projects. Staffing and operations will require about $1 million in additional funds at the Youth Services Center in 2018, depending on how quickly staff can be hired and the cost of providing additional programming. These costs would be covered by existing reserves in the county's General Fund.
The capital and human infrastructure we are investing in the Youth Services Center will allow the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention
the flexibility to accommodate additional declined youth. If the Youth Services Center fills up to capacity, the department would reinstate double bunking, utilizing a pre-determined criteria of which youth are suitable to be double bunked. This is not a preferred option since it is not considered best practices and most youth do not wish to be double bunked with anyone.
The required capital investment is about $75,000. The new building is needed to avoid much more expensive major maintenance costs, which would require tens of millions of dollars to replace and upgrade plumbing, electrical, security, HVAC, and other systems.
By March 1, 2018, all declined youth will be housed at the Youth Services Center where there is no restrictive housing. In the meantime we, along with the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention, continue to review restrictive housing, take steps to enhance programming for youth at the Maleng Regional Justice Center, and make sure the correct policies are in place around restrictive housing at the Regional Justice Center.
We are committed to addressing the institutional racism in our juvenile justice system and moving toward zero youth detention. We are dedicated to making sure that our facilities build upon, and not hinder, our efforts to reach zero youth detention. Moving the declined youth to the Youth Services Center is a step toward our goal of zero youth detention. By housing the declined youth at the Youth Services Center we will better be able to provide developmentally responsive and appropriate support to this age group that is based on research and science.
We are not admitting anything with regard to the lawsuit. The Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention is still investigating the claims. We will respond to the lawsuit at the appropriate time.
The capital funds are from reserves set aside for maintenance projects. The operating funds are from General Fund reserves accumulated due to underspending in 2016. The additional operating costs will further exacerbate the General Fund budget challenges for 2019-2020. State limitations on revenues available to counties mean that General Fund budgets are under perpetual financial stress, even in booming economic conditions.
This means that we will bargain what we are legally required to bargain with unions and we will not overlook any of our obligations.
The Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention will put policies in place needed in order to address any safety concerns with moving declined youth from the Maleng Regional Justice Centerto the Youth Services Center.
We recently revised the Detention Intake Criteria and the Detention Risk Assessment Instrument for the Youth Services Center which will qualify more non-declined youth for Alternative to Secure Detention programs. It is estimated that these two policy changes will redirect 2 to 3 youth from the Youth Services Center daily.
  • As part of our ongoing commitment to examining our juvenile justice system and addressing inequities present in our current system, we are taking a holistic approach making sure families and children have access to the opportunities required to be successful throughout life.
  • The continuum starts with Best Starts for Kids, investments in pre-K kids and families. Our work continues with our efforts to reduce disparities in housing and increase access to healthy food, jobs, and education. We expect these investments to result in fewer kids coming into contact with the justice system.
  • We use and want to build on our diversion and intervention programs like the 180 Project a pre-filing juvenile diversion program designed to keep youth out of the criminal justice system and Family Intervention and Restorative Services a program that offers services to youth who are involved with domestic violence instead of being charged.
  • Working with school districts and others, we have implemented peacemaking circles that helps address harm and conflict to create a different response to suspension and expulsion; mediation that helps keep kids in school; and healing circles that help students and teachers alike deal with trauma.
  • We have asked Deputy Executive Rhonda Berry to lead our zero youth detention effort, bringing together our partners within and outside of King County government to transparently and collaboratively further reduce the number of youth in detention.
  • We have worked with the Juvenile Justice Equity Steering Committee to implement and adopt new Miranda Rights language that the King County Sheriff will be using with juveniles. The language was changed to be less complicated and technical reflective of adolescent brain development.

Relevant links


Quotes

King County’s leaders are united in pushing forward with the best ideas in juvenile justice reform. By moving youth charged as adults to the Youth Services Center, we are able to offer age-appropriate programs and services to help them get back on track. This is just one reform of many, including creating more alternatives to detention and investing in the resolution of family challenges. As our work continues, we will do everything we can to help young people overcome the struggles of adolescence and the burdens of history.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

Our auto decline youth need to be transitioned out of adult facilities so they will be afforded the opportunity for proper programming. As of now we are housing young people with no life skills training and not addressing the trauma that they have experienced in their young lives. We all know the brain science and its time we started addressing the issues that cause more trauma.

Dominique Davis, Community Passageways

As a community and youth advocate, I fully support the transition of *all* detained youth from MRJC -- which is an adult facility -- to the YSC. Youth and young adults should be held when in custody amongst their peers. Understanding brain science and knowing that the brain is not fully developed until the age of mid-twenties gives validation that youth should be in a safe and nurturing environment which will allow them to focus on their mistakes and re-entry, and not be influence by the system of influences within.

Kendrick Glover, Glover Empower Mentoring Program and member of the Juvenile Justice Equity Steering Committee

For more information, contact:

Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography