Petition to Stop the Building of a New Youth Jail Durham
Join concerned Durham residents and organizations to demand an immediate pause in the process of funding and building a new $30 million youth detention center in the County of Durham.
We believe there are other ways to keep Durham’s children and youth ages 8-17 healthy, safe, and local without having to utilize facilities to cage children. We are troubled by the County’s proposal to set aside funds for the creation of a new youth detention center for numerous reasons, including:
- The Capital Improvement Plan does not demonstrate an immediate need for a youth detention center. The average number of youth in the current detention center is 12. However, the proposal suggests an unjustified need to increase to 35-40 beds. The current average length of stay is 23 days. According to the FY 2021-2022 County Budget, “the total number of juveniles admitted to the youth home has been trending down this fiscal year.”
- The County has argued that a new youth detention center is necessary because the alternative would be detaining youth in outside counties, putting distance between youth and their communities. While we agree that separating youth from their communities creates unnecessary hardships, this argument leads us to consider further questions. What are other ways to ensure that youth could remain in their communities without being detained in the first place?
- The Plan also notes that the “conversation is ongoing on the potential need to increase bed capacity to 35-40 beds to accommodate growth.” Where are these conversations occurring, and why isn’t public input being pursued, particularly from directly-impacted members of the public?
As a coalition of residents, we believe strongly in collaborating with our neighbors to push for a future that keeps all of us safe. Thus, we are curious about the public input and desires regarding the building of a new detention center for youth.
We insist on a public hearing or town hall to address the following:
- What steps have been exhausted before youth are forced into these facilities, and what other resources are available?
- Is there data to reflect the voices or stories of detained youth and their loved ones?
- What “supports” were youth and their families offered before detention was decided? Were these “supports” voluntary and consent-based, or solely punitive? Have the interventions or supports offered to them been useful or successful in offering support? If so, can we invest more resources in these interventions rather than in the detention center?
- What do residents, especially those most impacted, believe about investing $30 million into youth detention? What preventative measures and alternatives to confinement would community members and youth rather invest in?
We believe that Durham can come together to find non-carceral, supportive services that ensure the safety and wellbeing of all youth in Durham.
Please only sign this petition if you live, work, or go to school in Durham, NC.
Join our movement to stop the new youth jail and to reallocate those resources to youth wellness alternatives.
Youth Heal In Community Not Cages Coalition