King County Public Health now oversees Juvenile Justice to focus on healing

King County Public Health now oversees Juvenile Justice to focus on healing

SEATTLE — Juvenile Justice now falls under the direction of King County Public Health. On Wednesday King County Executive Dow Constantine unveiled that plans that have been in the works since November.

The idea is to focus on healing and rehabilitating the youth offender to have charges reduced or thrown out.

Jahila Moody is a prime example of the desired outcome.

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“Summer of 2016, I had a felony and a misdemeanor,” Moody told KIRO 7 on Monday.

Now she’s a high school graduate working at the University of Washington. She avoided jail time by going through the 180 Program and Community Passageways -- both programs emphasized in the new approach.

“(They were) Encouraging me and telling me I can do anything I want to do and have the vision I want in life,” Moody said.  “And from there on, I just started excelling.”

For the past four months-plus, key stakeholders helped form the plan, including police, prosecutors and Dominique Davis, who runs the nonprofit Community Passageways.

“Really, I'm excited because we're going to take that punitive lens off and put on a healing lens,” Davis said. “So, we're going to go after some deeper rooted issues.”

The plan includes developing programs for youth to recognize and regulate responses from past trauma they've endured. It will expand restorative practices, such as healing circles and mediation.

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More news from KIRO 7

In February, KIRO 7 reported on a King County program that uses teenage mediators, like Cheyenne Brashear, to break through to youth offenders. Click here to read more.   

“That kid reminded me of my brother,” Brashear said of a youth offender she mediated with. “Just another multi-racial, black kid growing up in the wrong neighborhood making the wrong friends.”

Moody told KIRO 7 without programs like the ones being expanded today, she likely wouldn't be on her way to college.

“I wouldn't have the mindset that I have now,” she said. “And I would also still be involved in the streets.”