#GreaterSeattle: Turning a drug arrest into a new career path

Finn Sullivan, 17, was arrested during his last year for selling prescription drugs at his high school in Seattle’s Central District.

He was put into King County Drug Court, a system that provides eligible defendants the chance to go into drug treatment rather than serving time. The program is more than twenty years old and has been celebrated as a national success story.

After his arrest, Sullivan went to an in-treatment rehabilitation program in Florida for a month to work on his recovery. Since completing his treatment, he’s been sober for six months.

He says his job at a local nonprofit devoted to creating public art has been a big part of that recovery.

Urban Artworks holds eight-week sessions for small groups of at-risk teens who are in the juvenile court system or are experiencing homelessness, and have an interest in art. Clients hire the organization to do public and private murals and art installations around the city, and the teens work on these projects. The teens must treat their job at Urban ArtWorks professionally and are offered career and life coaching while in the program.

Sullivan was offered a job there by his parole officer and has been working at the art studio for more than two months. He admits he still has a lot of work to do, but says of the Drug Court program, “once I get out, to me, I feel like the sky’s the limit.”

About the #GreaterSeattle series: Political slogans about “making America great again” are stirring up racism and anti-immigrant sentiment around the country. But these young people are proof that our growing diversity is Seattle’s greatest strength.

This video was produced as part of a class taught by Seattle Times photographer Erika Schultz for the UW Journalism program.

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