The No New Youth Jail Coalition, WA-BLOC, and Seattle Peoples Party have invited Dow Constantine to debate Nikkita Oliver regarding the proposed juvenile jail and courthouses at Rainier Beach High School on Monday, June 11, from 5:30pm door, 6-8pm. As you may know, Dow recently announced that he would be willing to debate Nikkita Oliver regarding the proposed youth jail on the Seattle Channel. The debate would be edited and closed to the public. When Nikkita responded that she would agree to a Seattle Channel debate, provided it was held in a public forum and that young people of color, who will be most impacted by the proposed project, would be able to ask questions, Dow failed to respond.
Now, Dow has refused to attend a public debate with Nikkita at Rainier Beach High School; a representative from Dow's office has informed the NNYJ Coalition that Dow would not engage in any debate about whether the jail and courthouse should be built because it failed to address the question of how the County can achieve zero youth detention. We believe this debate is one step towards achieving the goal of the People's Moratorium: that Dow halt constructing pending a meaningful conversation with community stakeholders about repurposing site to meet basic human needs.
We have re-oriented the debate to a youth panel that centers the people affected by the New Youth Jail project and would like to fund the youth for their time and energy to be on a panel and for their vision and leadership on this campaign. Please help us raise an additional 1,300 in order to support these young people. We thank you for supporting work that centers youth of color in building an anti-racist movement and world with out jails!
In March, community members delivered a letter to County Executive Dow Constantine to initiate a People’s Moratorium, requesting that Dow Constantine put a pause on the construction of the youth jail project. As you may know, for over six years there has been wide spread opposition to this project that has been ignored time and time again.
Key aspects of the County’s project continue to be called into question, including its jeopardized funding following a Washington Court of Appeals decision rendering tax collection for much of the $230 million dollar project unlawful. Although the county has filed an appeal, if it continues to lose in court, the county will be required to draw the vast majority of the funding from the General Fund - which has already been gutted - at a time where the county is facing a severe housing crises and struggling to provide basic services. The motivations for the project are also at issue as internal county documents show that the current youth jail is in "generally good condition," and given that the project provides the county with an opportunity to sell a swath of Seattle’s rapidly-gentrifying Central District to developers.
In calling for a moratorium on construction, we draw attention to the county’s repeated efforts to silence those opposed to the increasingly-unpopular project. From changing rules of County Council meetings to limit public engagement, to cancelling open houses and public meetings, to actively thwarting the efforts by over 60 community-based and non-profit organizations to appeal the building permit for the new jail, the county’s approach to the process of planning and construction has been marked by efforts to avoid community input and participation, to hide the truth about the project, and to prevent a meaningful public process.
We appreciate your support to center community and stop the New Youth Jail!