Judge refuses to release girl detained for ‘not doing homework’
A Michigan judge is being criticized for detaining a 15-year-old girl for violating her probation.
The case gained notoriety after ProPublica Illinois published an investigative article that accused the judge of racism for detaining the child — who goes by the pseudonym Grace — because she didn’t do her homework. However, going to school and doing homework were both conditions of Grace’s probation.
When the pandemic struck, Grace became overwhelmed, so she stopped attending virtual school and turning in homework. Her mother became frustrated and reported the probation violation.
As a result, hundreds of students and activists have rallied for Grace demanding she be freed.
“Grace is Black in a predominantly white community and in a county where a disproportionate percentage of Black youth are involved with the juvenile justice system,” says ProPublica.
“I know if Grace was a 15-year-old [w]hite girl she would not be sitting in juvenile detention right now,” Sheri Crawley told ClickonDetroit.com.
But the judge said she would not be influenced by the public protests calling her decisions racist.
“I told her she was on thin ice and I told her that I was going to hold her to the letter, to the order, of the probation,” said Judge Mary Ellen Brennan, the presiding judge of the Oakland County Family Court Division.
“She was not detained because she didn’t turn her homework in … She was detained because she was a threat to her mother,” the judge said.
The judge said that in making her decision, she looked at the entirety of Grace’s record.
“There is not a question in my mind, if I were to grant the request to release you home today, I would be making a mistake, and I would be doing you a disservice,” she told the girl according to the BBC.
“For the first segment of the hearing,” reports ProPublica, “Brennan detailed Grace’s contentious relationship with her mother, during what she referred to as ‘the crazy years,’ citing police records and child welfare reports mostly from 2017 and 2018. The reports describe Grace yelling, pushing, punching and biting her mother, and her mother’s inability to control her daughter, the judge said. She also mentioned Grace’s mental health treatment and troubles at school, including her theft of school technology, as well as social services support to help resolve conflicts between the mother and daughter.”
The judge urged the girl to “give yourself a chance to follow through and finish something.”
Grace has made good progress with her behavioral issues while in detention and the judge doesn’t want to impede the progress by letting her go back home early.
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