Re-re-upping this post from December 21, 2016.

This appeared on SLOG yesterday in Ana Sofia's anti-new-juvie fact check...

The protesters are asking for the city and county to move towards zero youth detention, a system in which kids are not locked up for committing crimes.

And this appeared in Morning News today...

Three Charged in Shooting of Mount Vernon Police Officer: A 44-year-old man and two teenagers have been charged in connection to the shootings, KING 5 reports.

Here are the charging documents from Mount Vernon—where there were two shootings, not one.

Ernesto Rivas, the 44-year-old man, is charged with allegedly shooting a Mount Vernon cop in the head. Austin Gonzalez, one of the two teenagers arrested with Rivas, wasn't charged in connection to that shooting. Gonzalez wasn't standing next to Rivas when he allegedly shot the cop, or just hanging out in Rivas's house during the alleged shooting; this isn't a case of bringing identical charges against someone for the crime of standing next to someone committing a crime. No, Gonzalez was charged with an earlier alleged shooting, the incident that brought the cops to Rivas's house in the fist place; the authorities believe Gonzalez, who was born in 2000, was the shooter in that incident. So, again, two people were shot that day in front of Rivas's house, not one: the cop Rivas is alleged to have shot in the head, and the man Gonzalez is alleged to have shot in the neck after the man's car broke down in front of Rivas's house.

Another round of allegedly's for everybody, the presumption of innocence, no one has been proven guilty of anything, we've yet to hear from the lawyers of the accused, etc. But if Gonzalez is found guilty—if he committed the first of two attempted murders that day—where is this kid supposed to go? If we're not going to lock kids up for committing crimes... then what are we going to do with kids commit murder or attempt to commit murder? Or kids who commit rape?

There are answers—maybekindasortaright here on SLOG...

The detention of our youth is not an inevitable, necessary evil. Contrary to what is often assumed, what frequently distinguishes the youth who sit in detention for weeks or months from the youth who are released back to their families and communities is not the severity of the crime, but the resources of their families and their access to the healthcare and community programs that keep them safe and supported. All youth, even those charged with violent crimes, need appropriate and specialized support and interventions as detention will not address the root cause of why these young people are acting or responding with violence.

We encourage the county to be guided by the research that demonstrates how youth detention isolates children when they most need support. We urge the county to invest in family—and community—driven solutions. We support change and innovation in our legal system and an end to systemic racism in our justice system. Together we can create a community that prioritizes and invests in restorative, individualized, and developmentally appropriate strategies to respond to youth behavior and eliminate the need for the continued detention of youth.

I agree with everything in that guest editorial, which was written by a large group of lawyers and advocates for incarcerated youth, and published on SLOG earlier this year. Address the root causes, invest in families and communities, end systemic racism in our justice system (and every other system), prioritize the living shit out of "restorative, individualized, and developmentally appropriate strategies to respond to youth behavior and eliminate the need for the continued detention of youth."

But I'm not sure exactly what is being posited here. Will addressing root causes, battling systemic racism, investing in families, etc., create a future where kids don't commit violent crimes? Or are they suggesting we can, through innovation, find some alternative to incarcerating kids who do commit violent crimes? Are we aiming for "a system in which kids are not locked up for committing crimes"? Or hoping to create a society in which kids are simply incapable of committing crimes?

While doing less violence to kids—economic violence, racial violence, domestic violence—would certainly lead to less violence from kids, either outcome (no violent kids who might require incarceration, a non-custodial alternative to incarcerating violent kids) seems naively/ridiculously utopian.

The authors of that group editorial called for "eventually eliminating youth detention," to their credit, not the immediate elimination of youth detention. So even they're aware that ending youth incarceration isn't something we can do next week. Even these advocates recognize that—until proposed investments in restorative, individualized, and developmentally appropriate strategies begin paying whatever dividends they expect will be forthcoming—some area youths are going to be incarcerated. And right now we can only incarcerate them in the "toxic, cramped, and falling apart" facility we have.

"It's not a functional building," a judge who works there told Cienna Madrid more than five years ago. "It's filthy, it's decaying, and it sends an evil message to the primarily poor people who we see: 'You just don't matter.'"

We're going to keep incarcerating kids around here. Even the adults pushing for an end to youth incarceration recognize that fact. We are, as Ana Sofia wrote yesterday, incarcerating a lot fewer kids than we used to, and activists deserve credit for driving those numbers down. Bravo. But holding the kids we're going to have to incarcerate for the foreseeable future in the facility we have now—the toxic, cramped, and unsafe facility we have now—is its own kind of violence.

Fighting for a just future—ending systemic racism (and mass incarceration), investing in families and communities, making sure every kid is safe and supported—is the right thing to do. Building a new, safe, non-toxic, and adaptable facility to house the kids we may have to incarcerate while we fight for that future? Also the right thing to do.