Teen Sent to Juvenile Detention Over Homework

15-year-old was on probation, failed to do her online work amid pandemic
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2020 9:14 AM CDT
Teen Sent to Juvenile Detention Over Homework

When her Michigan school closed because of the pandemic, 15-year-old Grace initially did fine with her online schoolwork. But eventually, she struggled with the transition, with sleeping in, and with getting her homework done. That might sound like a common problem affecting lots of teens and families these days, but ProPublica reports that this situation has a disturbing twist. Grace's failure to do her homework landed her in front of a judge, who sent the girl out of the courtroom in handcuffs and straight to a juvenile detention center—even as such facilities were being encouraged to send children home out of safety concerns. Grace had been on probation on charges of assaulting her mother (she allegedly bit her finger and pulled her hair in an argument over a phone) and of stealing a classmate's phone from a locker room.

The judge in Grace's case allowed her to remain at home after those charges were filed, provided the teen abided by the rules of her probation—including schoolwork. “She hasn’t fulfilled the expectation with regard to school performance,” Judge Mary Anne Brennan said during sentencing. “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.” The story includes criticism from advocates for Grace, who say that Black girls like herself are disproportionately removed from home and sent to detention centers. Plus, "who can even be a good student right now?" asks Ricky Johnson of the National Juvenile Justice Network. The judge and other officials involved in Grace's case declined to comment on the particulars. (Click to read the full story.)

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