Holding King County to a Higher Standard: 2021-2022 Anti-Racist Policy Priorities

The 2021-2022 policy and budget proposals include down payments for a long-term, permanent shift in the county’s operations to reflect anti-racist priorities and values. The goal of the proposed policy agenda and budget is to meet the needs of and implement positive changes for Black and Indigenous People, Children, and Families in King County.

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Leading with Racial Justice in King County

On June 11, 2020, King County Executive, Dow Constantine, and Public Health Director, Patty Hayes, declared racism is a public health crisis. Since the declaration, in partnership with system advocates, community members, and public servants throughout King County government, Executive Constantine put together a package of proposals that reforms the criminal legal system, and funds ongoing work to confront racism as a public health crisis.

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Bridging the Gap Between Community and Systems

Willard Jimerson, Jr. grew up in Seattle’s historically African American Central District neighborhood. Raised by a loving grandmother and grandfather, young Will could never have predicted that just six weeks after his 13th birthday he’d become a ward of the state and spend the rest of his childhood in America’s adult prison system.

One fatal and catastrophic moment on a late night in 1994 changed everything. The kid who once fancied himself a charming and mischievous prankster, who loved playing arcade games and pick-up football, was gone.

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The Road Map to Zero Youth Detention

On July 21, 2020, King County Executive, Dow Constantine, committed to eliminating secure detention for youth in King County by 2025. While the commitment to a specific timeline is new, the work to achieve the goal of Zero Youth Detention began in 2017 when King County Executive, Dow Constantine, announced Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Zero Youth Detention Initiative (ZYD).

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Opportunity for Youth to Get Involved In the Local Anti-trafficking Movement

There is a definite connection between the commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) of children and the juvenile justice system. Although exact numbers don’t currently exist, studies show that most victims of commercial sexual exploitation of children in King County have also been involved in the legal system.

The same systemic issues, racial inequity, and income inequality that make youth vulnerable to becoming involved in the legal system also make youth targets for perpetrators of CSE.

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