The state said my brothers and I would be trouble at an early age when were separated. We grew up in the foster care system, and were in and out of detention, group homes, and facilities. Psychiatrists told our caretakers to watch for criminal behavior when we were in Kindergarten. Legal caretakers were supposed to report school progress, curfew times, broken rules, and bad behavior to the family court, where breaking contracts at the home usually meant a full 30-day sentence each time at the Youth Detention Center in the Central District.
When I wasn’t locked up in detention I was locked up in a religious facility, because foster homes are modern day missions. They tried to break us down, saying Jesus is knocking on the door, and spied on us using surveillance systems. I lived with church pastors who locked my crying 4 year-old brother out of the house at night, strangled and slapped kids around, locked us in rooms and didn’t let us eat. We were losing weight, but CPS didn’t remove us until my grandma reported them. People like that I never saw face charges. But if you want to escape and you’re caught as a runaway you’ll be in a detention center. Then caseworkers send you to another home, and the more you move around, the worse places they send you. If you request to leave a home it can be a long process. They’ll send you to worse places so you stay in the same homes for longer.
Last week a group of people disrupted a public presentation where the King County Council proposed the construction of the new youth detention center. Panelists left the building in disarray, escorted by SPD. “But you don’t understand,” said Council member Gasset before the presentation was called off, “we’re adding family court…” Printed on architectural maps behind them were the drafts for a new juvenile detention facility.
“Family court” means youth are locked up for breaking house rules and curfews or if drug tests come back positive. I failed two years at an alternative high school because I was in treatment centers, detention centers, and family court. I wore electronic ankle bracelets to school thanks to the family court. I went to drug treatment for drugs I’ve never used. Other youth spend time in FairFax for psychological problems. They’re talking about “family court” as if that’s a good thing. No, no, you don’t understand! We’re adding family court.” More family court means more youth will end up in worse homes and
spend more time in jail. More people will work in that system who say it’s all good to keep their jobs and do research to preserve it. It means more at-risk youth services and more proposals for new prison-related family services. It means the rapid expansion of the entire juvenile prison system and many exploiters benefiting financially from the development.
A prison complex is inclusive, monumental, and totalitarian. The council refers to the proposal as the “juvenile justice operational master plan” and their “top capital priority” project since 2008. To deal with the consequences of the prison system they need a “master plan.” They start within a framework where they have total control—in the prison—and expand services from that. The family court is where the state is the family, the prison is the home, and where the parents are missionaries, socialworkers, POs.
The juvenile justice master plan needs to be stopped.
Set the youth free.
For Tides of Flame issue # 18, a Seattle anarchist paper.