Labor of Love Awardee
Creative Justice | Seattle, WA
Creative Justice is an arts-based alternative to incarceration for young people in King County. Initially established as a three-year pilot program with 1% for Art revenue generated by the construction of the Children and Family Justice Center, it has now become an independent, community-held nonprofit organization and an example of how public agencies and public funds can be used to inspire systemic change.
Participation in Creative Justice is voluntary and available to youth facing nonviolent charges. In exchange for their creative efforts, they receive community service credit and stipends to help cover court fines and other expenses, along with Metro bus passes to help remove barriers to participation. Through an agreement with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, most participants see their charges dropped or substantially reduced.
Creative Justice provides intensive 16-week sessions for youth involved with King County Juvenile Court to work with experienced and trained mentor artists. Over the course of the sessions, these mentor artists invite youth to consider the root causes of racism, classism, sexism, and other oppressions, focusing on the positive role youth voices can have in building a more just and equitable society. Participants meet as a group twice a week to dialogue, share a meal, produce original artwork, and learn new skills, working individually and collaboratively to express themselves through writing, music, performance, and visual art. At the end of each session, the youth produce culminating events to share what they’ve created.
After graduating from the program, participants have the opportunity to stay involved through the Youth Justice Leadership Board. These leaders, currently aged 16 to 19, provide program input to staff and advisors, serve as peer mentors, and collaborate on related creative initiatives.
You can learn more and support their work at https://www.creativejusticenw.org