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DCYF explains decision to freeze inmate intake, prosecutors react

SEATTLE — The news that the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families is freezing inmate intake at Echo Glen in Snoqualmie and Green Hill in Chehalis has been the talk among youth prosecutors and lawmakers.

Allison Krutsinger with DCYF says this decision was based on the growing population at both facilities that was jeopardizing current staff safety.

“We don’t love this decision, but the reality is when you have campus’s that far exceed capacity of best practice, we are not living our mission of rehabilitation, “Krutsinger said.

Krutsinger says current inmates at each facility will serve out there sentence and that those who have been sentenced but are still at county facilities will remain there for the time. She says there is not an exact timeline when this freeze will be lifted.

“We recognize and acknowledge that there will be upstream impacts and are concerned about that for both the impacted counties, but also the young people who are spending more time in the county juvenile detention facilities or county health facilities,” Krutsinger said.

The news of this inmate freeze has sparked concern from prosecutors and law enforcement.

“I think it was a little shock and kind of blindsided by it,” Jimmy Hung, Chief Deputy Prosecutor for King County’s Juvenile Division told KIRO 7.

Hung says this decision will have a rough impact on places like the King County Youth Detention Center in Seattle. He says that the facility has other issues it needs to address before housing even more inmates.

“This is a facility that was not designed and meant to house children for long periods of time,” Hung said.

This decision comes as youth crime continues to be an issue in Western Washington.

Gubernatorial Candidate and Former King County Sheriff Dave Reichert says the decision by the DCYF not only puts public safety at risk, but it shows the deeper issues the juvenile justice system has.

“This didn’t happen overnight. This has been a progression of bad policies over and over and over again,” Reichert said.

Although this is not an ideal situation for the DCYF or youth prosecutors, each side remains committed to addressing youth rehabilitation and crime.

“Our best strategy is how we can keep kids from coming into the system in the first place,” Hung said.

King County Sheriff Patricia Cole-Tindall provided this statement on the DCYF’s decision:

“I recognize that the Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families must ensure the safety of the staff and other residents.

However, we must work together to find a solution to this situation, as both Echo Glen and Green Hill School serve an important role in community safety and teaching juvenile offenders about accountability and consequences.” – Patricia Cole-Tindall

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