United States of America

Artists won’t collaborate with 4Culture and King County on the new $233 million dollar youth jail in Seattle!

Thousands of people have been working for more than six years to oppose the new youth jail that King County is building in Seattle’s Central District (check out https://nonewyouthjail.com/ to learn more about this fight).

Just a few days ago, the arts non-profit 4Culture sent out a private call, saying they have a sum of $500,000 available to pay artists willing to contribute their art to the new youth jail in Seattle. The call for artists went out both locally, and to artists around the US--presumably since the new youth jail is so unpopular and so hated here in Seattle.

Artists have a responsibility to refuse to make a profit from the incarceration and traumatization of children.

Since 2012, politicians in Seattle have tried every possible tack to win public support for their scheme to build this $233 million dollar jail for children. They’ve tried to sell people the idea that youth detention can be “trauma-informed,” or that it’s possible to take a “public health” approach to jailing kids, or that adding artwork to spaces of captivity and confinement will make the experience of being imprisoned more bearable for children.

Here are some actual facts:

-Jailing youth doesn’t work. In Seattle, 88% of imprisoned youth are later re-incarcerated.
-Children as young as 8 years old can be incarcerated in Seattle’s youth jail.
-The Seattle youth jail routinely places young people in solitary confinement, and King County has repeatedly REFUSED orders to stop placing youth in solitary confinement. The UN considers solitary confinement of youth to be torture.
-More than 85% of the young people locked up in the youth jail have diagnosed mental health issues, including substance abuse, ADD, fetal alcohol syndrome, and more.
-12% of incarcerated youth report being sexually abused in prison in the previous year, mostly by guards.

We refuse to participate in the charade of trying to make this youth jail more aesthetically appealing, where children forced to wear jumpsuits will sleep on concrete beds every night.

Please share this petition widely with all the artists you know and please spread the word! We have an obligation to refrain from collaborating with the imprisonment of our community’s young people.

For more information:


We, the undersigned artists, pledge to boycott the 4Culture call for art for the new youth jail in Seattle, and we will encourage our peers to do the same.

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The Artists boycott the new youth jail in Seattle petition to 4Culture was written by Jed Walsh and is in the category Justice at GoPetition.

Petition Tags

youth incarceration art