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Suggested changes for new youth jail, just as construction begins

King County's juvenile court and jail are located south of Capitol Hill.
Flickr Photo/jseattle
File photo: King County's juvenile court and jail are located south of Capitol Hill.

Construction has started at the new King County juvenile jail, but politicians and activists are still fighting about it.

The latest challenge to a new youth detention center was rejected by a King County judge this week.  

Meantime, King County Executive Dow Constantine held up a new report saying that it confirmed the latest design would help the county get to its goal of zero youth detention.

In May, Constantine asked the University of Washington’s Dr. Eric Trupin to evaluate the design of the building, programs and staff training.

Trupin is an expert in juvenile justice at the UW School of Medicine. His report makes recommendations for helping the county manage youth in ways that will help prevent them from becoming ensnared in the criminal justice system. 

Constantine says the report affirms some of the plans for the current design. Still, other suggestions, like providing a more campus-like facility, reducing the number of secure beds and booking fewer youth will take time to consider.

“We need to get the feedback from the professionals, from the community about what can be done now, what can be done over time, and what can be done differently,” Constantine said.

Trupin says he wishes Constantine had asked for his input sooner.

In the report, Trupin notes that contractual commitments and imminent construction of the facility presented serious impediments for the feasibility of proposing significant changes.

Voters approved a levy in 2012 to replace the existing youth courthouse and detention center, but legal and permitting delays have been costly.

In rejecting the latest challenge to the master permits, King County Judge Suzanne Parisian granted the group, End the Prison Industrial Complex, an expedited appeal.