CHOOSE 180 transforms the lives of youth and young adults by partnering with institutional leaders, connecting them with community, empowering them with choice and teaching them the skills necessary to avoid engagement with the criminal justice system.
CHOOSE 180 envisions a future where adolescent behavior is decriminalized, and youth are offered restorative practices in lieu of traditional prosecution. We strive to build a community of support by providing a safe space to pivot, and an opportunity to choose a new direction in life.
CHOOSE 180 serves as an emergency room for youth and young adults in crisis. We help them identify what’s wrong, the behaviors that keep them stuck, and the path toward positive change. We also connect these youth and young adults to “primary care” and “specialty providers” such as Case Managers, Mentors, Employers and Educators throughout the community who can help them stay on their newly discovered path.
CHOOSE 180 has an emphasis on serving youth and young adults who are engaged in risky “gateway” activities which we define as activities that if gone ignored would likely result in escalating negative behavior and substantial lifelong consequences.
Studies conducted by the University of Washington's Public Behavioral Health and Justice Policy division and King County's Office of Performance, Strategy and Budget show that CHOOSE 180 is more effective than established comparison programs at reducing recidivism and addressing disproportionality.
"It's not a program, it's an opportunity for choice"
Doug Wheeler| Founder
CHOOSE 180 began in 2011 as a community centered effort in partnership with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to impact disproportionality, keep youth out of the juvenile justice system and break the school-to-prison pipeline. Recognizing that the criminal justice system was not the most effective tool in addressing complex social issues King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg reached out to community leader Doug Wheeler for help in creating a new way to serve our youth in these at-risk situations.
In response Doug Wheeler convened a group of community leaders that would not only create a program called Youth 180 but build an organization where young people would be empowered by choice and motivated to change. With Doug’s commitment to building a community solution and Dan’s commitment to investing in alternatives to criminal prosecution a true partnership was built that since 2011 has supported over 2000 youth in avoiding criminal prosecution and choosing a new direction for their lives.