YouthCare Endorses De-Escalate Washington

Tue, 12/12/2017

This summer, YouthCare asked our donors and friends to take a short survey. One of the things we learned was that you want to hear more about our advocacy work to support homeless youth.

Since that time, YouthCare’s leadership unanimously voted to support the De-Escalate Washington ballot initiative—and we urge you to support Initiative 940 too.

I-940 is a grassroots effort led by people of color and families who have been impacted by police violence. The initiative would require that law enforcement receive violence de-escalation and mental health training, and it would change the criminal standard for the use of deadly force from “malice” to “good faith.” The “good faith standard” is met when a reasonable officer, objectively and subjectively, believed in good faith that the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious physical harm.

This issue hits home for YouthCare and the young people we serve. Two-thirds of the youth we serve at YouthCare are youth of color. Black, Latinx, and Native American communities disproportionately experience excessive or deadly force by police, even though they only account for around 11% of Washington State’s total population.

Additionally, more than half of the young people we serve are experiencing mental illness. We know the rate of deadly force is often increased in instances of mental illness: in 2016, almost one-quarter of people killed by police in the United States were experiencing mental illnesses.

Homeless youth are often in crisis and interacting with law enforcement on the streets as they navigate survival day-to-day. I-940 is an important step to increase police accountability and improve law enforcement’s training and response to people in crisis.

Please join us in supporting this campaign: