Five Questions with Pam Jones, Juvenile Division Director, Adult & Juvenile Detention

Pam Jones1. What is the Juvenile Division responsible for? The Juvenile Division is responsible for the safe and secure housing of juvenile offenders.  While detained, juvenile offenders are provided comprehensive services such as medical and mental health services, education provided through Seattle Public Schools, access to a library on site staffed by the King County Library System and the option of participating in other regularly-scheduled programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, Powerful Voices, PONGO poetry and other special programs.

2. What do you like most about your job? Everything. I like working with children and their families, and being a partner with other Juvenile Justice agencies that work to provide nationally-recognized best practices programs for at-risk youth. I am also fortunate to work within a quality work environment with professional and caring staff.

3. What is the biggest challenge in your job? The biggest challenge is balancing needs of safety and security with best practices for adolescents and their unique developmental needs and making sure our policies and protocols, and staff training reflects this balance.

4. What is the Juvenile division doing to reduce disproportionate minority contact (DMC) in juvenile detention? Just as there is no one cause for DMC, there is no single change or agency that alone can eliminate it. Juvenile detention is partnering with Superior Court, Probation, Prosecutors, Defense Agencies, Police and the community to review practices and policies at key decision points in the justice system. Every juvenile justice agency has a role in creating racial equity and a responsibility to work together to eliminate DMC. We are working collaboratively to identify system improvements and make the changes that will reduce minority overrepresentation in detention. For example, we have helped create more objective criteria and risk assessment tools to determine when detention is the right option and we have worked hard to ensure appropriate youth are placed in alternatives to secure detention programs.

5. What is your main goal for 2014? My main goal for 2014 is to work with the new Children Family Justice Center project team which includes DAJD, Superior Court and Facility Management Staff. This is a unique opportunity to create a design that is inspired by community input and supports implementing best practices in operating a juvenile detention facility. Equally important is collaboration with other juvenile justice partners to engage with community groups to share information on the new Children Family Justice Center.