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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

February 9, 2015 at 6:09 PM

County Council approves new youth jail in Seattle

Update at 6:30 p.m.

The Metropolitan King Council Council voted Monday to approve a contract for the development of a new youth jail and courthouse in Seattle, council spokesman Al Sanders said.

The vote was 7 to 0. It was taken after several hours of comments from people opposed to the project.

“They took the vote while they were being shouted at,” Sanders said. “They heard the public testimony. They double-checked the legislation. They came back and they voted.”

Seattle resident Maxwell Peterson, 24, was in the audience. He said the speaker involved in the incident with sheriff’s deputies left the microphone and returned to his seat before the deputies got involved.

When the deputies tried to escort the speaker out of the room, other members of the public blocked the way and shouted, “Let him stay,” Peterson said. The meeting’s chairman eventually allowed the man to remain in the room, said Peterson.

“They kept trying to drag this guy out of the room for speaking for one extra minute,” Peterson said. “People thought it was very unfair.”

The council members took a short recess out of sight before voting, he said.

“I feel frustrated,” Peterson added. “I feel like none of the concerns raised today were at all addressed by the council members.”

Original post:

People opposed to the planned construction of a new youth jail and courthouse in Seattle packed a Metropolitan King County Council meeting Monday and spent several hours speaking against the project.

The meeting began at 1:30 p.m. and opponents of the Children and Family Justice Center project were still testifying at 5:30 p.m. There were angry chants against the project and many speakers read excerpts from a book by anti-incarceration activist Angela Davis.

The meeting’s chairman, Councilmember Joe McDermott, had sheriff’s deputies remove a speaker from the microphone at one point after the speaker continued to testify past his allotted time, council spokesman Al Sanders said. The episode caused unrest among members of the public.

Some council members left the room at certain points during the testimony. They were all still in the building as of 5:30 p.m., Sanders said.

Voters in 2012 approved a $210 million levy to replace the county’s juvenile-justice complex.

The project’s proponents say the 63-year-old complex with 212 jail beds is falling apart.

Opponents argue many voters didn’t understand what they were approving and say children shouldn’t be jailed.

On Monday, the council’s agenda included a proposed ordinance to approve the development contract for the new facility.

One speaker urged members of the council to read Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”

“Punitive justice is a failure,” he said. “Voters are now questioning what they actually voted for.”

 

Comments | Topics: Children and Families Justice Center, incarceration, jail

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