Cradle to Prison Pipeline – Children Born into Pipeline 2


I watched the flow of children through my courtroom. But it took some time for

me to actually understand the interplay (complicity, if you will) of two primary feeders

into the Pipeline: the juvenile justice system and the child welfare system. Let me

tell you about Frankie who first came before me at the age of 10 (now presumed to

have the capacity to commit a crime). He was charged with Assault 4 (a misdemeanor).

Frankie was born into the child welfare system. Removed from his mother at birth,

Frankie spent his first eight years moving from foster home to foster home, getting

angrier and more depressed. His angry outbursts landed him in a “therapeutic foster

home” placement for kids with behavioral problems. Of course once he was placed,

he continued to demonstrate his behavioral issues. He hit staff. The police were

called. He was arrested and charges were filed. It is clear that the therapeutic foster

home is using the courts to “enforce the rules” and provide much needed respite

care. But this created a criminal record for Frankie. Over the next five years, this pattern

repeats itself several times. I last saw Frankie six months ago. He presented on two

counts of Robbery 2 (felony charges). His lengthy criminal history (created from his

behavior in placement) counts to increase his score for the purpose of sentencing.

Frankie was facing 206–258 weeks in juvenile state “prison.” By the time he is

released, Frankie will be almost 18. He has literally been moved through the

Pipeline from the cradlenext stop, the adult prison system.

–Chief Judge Patricia Clark of the Juvenile

Division of King County Superior Court, Seattle, Washington

A Black boy born in 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison in his
lifetime; a Latino boy a 1 in 6 chance; and a White boy a 1 in 17 chance.

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