Alternatives to Incarceration for Juveniles in Seattle

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May 17

Lewis & Laws

Alternatives to Incarceration for Juveniles in Seattle

by Lewis & Laws

Rehabilitation. Not Punishment

First and foremost, it's important to understand that the juvenile justice system is designed to rehabilitate rather than punish young offenders. The goal is to address the underlying issues that may have contributed to your child's criminal behavior and provide them with the support they need to get back on track.

A Diversion Program

One alternative to incarceration is a diversion program. These programs aim to steer juvenile offenders away from the traditional court system and provide them with counseling, education, and community service opportunities instead. For example, the King County Juvenile Court offers a Youth Diversion Program, allowing eligible youth to participate in a restorative justice process rather than through formal prosecution.

Deferred Disposition

Another option is a deferred disposition. This means that your child would plead guilty to the charges, but the judge would postpone sentencing for a set period of time. During this time, your child must comply with certain conditions, such as attending school regularly, participating in counseling, and staying out of trouble. If they successfully complete the conditions, the charges may be dismissed.


In some cases, a judge may also order probation instead of incarceration. Probation allows your child to remain in the community under the supervision of a probation officer. They may be required to attend school, participate in counseling or drug treatment, and complete community service hours. Probation can be an effective way to hold your child accountable for their actions while still providing them with the support they need to make positive changes in their life.

It's also worth noting that Washington State strongly emphasizes evidence-based practices in the juvenile justice system. This means that the courts rely on research and data to guide their decision-making and ensure that interventions effectively reduce recidivism. For example, the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration (JRA) uses a risk assessment tool called the Washington State Juvenile Court Assessment (WSJCA) to identify a youth's risk level and treatment needs.

What Can Parents Do to Help Their Child After an Arrest?

So, what can you do as a parent to advocate for your child and ensure they receive the best possible outcome? First, it's crucial to work closely with your child's criminal defense lawyer. They can help you understand the charges against your child and explore the various alternatives to incarceration that may be available. They can also negotiate with prosecutors to secure a more favorable outcome.

It's also important to proactively address any underlying issues contributing to your child's criminal behavior. This might include seeking counseling or therapy for your child, enrolling them in after-school programs or extracurricular activities, or working with their school to ensure they receive the support they need to succeed academically.

Remember, the juvenile justice system is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each case is unique, and the courts will consider various factors when determining the most appropriate course of action for your child. These factors may include the severity of the offense, your child's prior criminal history, and their individual needs and circumstances.

It's also worth remembering that even if your child is ultimately sentenced to incarceration, it doesn't mean that their future is ruined. The juvenile justice system is designed to be rehabilitative, and programs and services are available within juvenile detention facilities to help young people turn their lives around. For example, the King County Juvenile Detention Facility offers various educational and vocational programs and mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Of course, the best-case scenario is to avoid incarceration altogether. And with the help of a skilled lawyer and a supportive family, achieving a more favorable outcome for your child is possible. So don't lose hope. Take a deep breath, gather your resources, and focus on what you can do to support your child during this challenging time.

Contact Our Seattle Juvenile Offense Lawyers Today

If your child has been arrested in Seattle, don't wait another minute to seek legal help. The experienced attorneys at Lewis and Laws are here to guide you through this challenging time and fight for the best possible outcome for your child.

At Lewis & Laws, we offer aggressive legal assistance to individuals from Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, and Washington State. Contact us today to explore your legal options. Protect your future and call us today!

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