#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.


  1. Hello, I know this is a long shot, but Finn is my cousin. I’ve been trying to contact him for the past couple months ever since he came to Spokane in November. When he left, he promised me that he would get in touch with me but I don’t believe he had the means to do so. If you or anyone knows a way I can contact him, please let me know. Thank you so much for your help.

  2. I know this amzing young stallion. This kid has the potential to rule the planet with the stroke of his brush. From broke to riches #dreamz

  3. come back baby. i should have never told you to go. if youre reading this come back now finn. im scared what i am gonna do. please please baby i know it sucks here, but i need you. i know you said it will be easier for me, but it’s not i cant breathe because it hurts. Please come back baby today please im scared i need you please. baby please

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