Last week, the Seattle City Council resolved to end the practice of putting young lawbreakers behind bars. Resolution 31614, which passed unanimously, is a commitment to "eliminate the need to detain or incarcerate youth" by cutting off the "school-to-prison pipeline" and finding alternatives to incarceration.
This is a big win for EPIC (Ending the Prison Industrial Complex), the organization that is spearheading the campaign against King County's plan to build a new, $210 million-dollar juvenile detention center. In a letter addressed to King County Councilmembers, EPIC and its partners... outlined their strategy: "We seek to redirect funding away from the mass incarceration of youth of color and towards community-based prevention, intervention and diversion services and programs."
....Central to the plan is the concept of “restorative justice.” Restorative justice differs from our current approach to justice in that the objective is not to punish anyone who has broken the law. Instead, the goal is to bring the community together to work with both the person who has committed the offense and the victims of the offense to repair damages and forge a path forward. Offenders are held accountable for their actions, but they’re given a chance to rectify their actions, rather than being automatically exiled from the community.
....To test how the concept can be used in our community today, EPIC has partnered with the Rainier Beach Action Coalition to create and pilot what they call “community restorative justice circles.” They got the idea from other cities across the country and formed an alliance with RJOY (Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth) a community-based organization founded by Fania Davis (sister of activist Angela Davis). Organizers from Seattle flew to Oakland to see the program first-hand....