Huy Expresses Concern re Proposed New King Co. Juvenile Detention Center

Dec 7th, 2015

Today the Huy Board of Advisors wrote the Seattle City Council, urging the Council “to carefully consider juvenile ‘justice’ alternatives that do not further disenfranchise Native American youth, before approving the proposed King County Juvenile Detention Facility.”

In a letter to Seattle City Councilors, Huy explained:

Native youth are the most vulnerable group of children in the United States. Over a quarter of Indian children live in poverty. Native youth graduate from high school at a rate 17 percent lower than the national average, and are more than twice as likely to die as their non-Native peers. Native youth suffer the highest juvenile suicide rate in the country, at more than double rate for the Caucasian youth suicide. Native youth experience PTSD at a rate of 22 percent—triple that of the general population.

Making such horrible realities even worse, juvenile detention facilities, like the proposed King County facility, house a disproportionately high number of Native youth. Nationally, Native American youth are 30 percent more likely than Caucasian youth to be referred to juvenile court than have charges dropped, which results in their early entry into the system—perhaps without return. In our experience, local Native youth are infrequently offered opportunities for diversion. These points track with findings of the Washington Supreme Court’s Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice System, which reveals persistent disparate treatment of Native youth at each stage of Washington’s juvenile system.

The Huy Advisors concluded: “If you simply build it, or allow it to be built, they will come—meaning Native and other minority youth. Your very careful thought is needed.”