A Michigan judge has denied a motion to free a Black teenager who was sent to a juvenile detention facility for not completing her online homework, according to ProPublica. The attorneys of Grace, which the outlet says is the teen’s middle name, argued on Monday (July 20) that the educational support and therapy she receives at the facility are useless.
“I think you are exactly where you are supposed to be,” Judge Mary Ellen Brennan said to the young girl. “You are blooming there, but there is more work to be done.”
Caseworkers for the facility where she is being held testified that Grace should be kept there until she completes the program, which could take several months. Judge Brennan also defended her initial decision to place the teen in the juvenile detention center while speaking for almost an hour on the troubled relationship between Grace and her mother.
“This morning for you, respectfully, it is going to get worse before it gets better,” the judge said. “Because I am about to go over all the crap, all the negative, all the prior attempts at helping. I am going through it all.”
Last year, the teen was charged with theft and assault for several incidents including biting her mother's finger, stealing another student’s phone and pulling her mother’s hair. She was placed on probation in April of this year and she was required to complete her homework.
ProPublica reports that Grace has ADHD and received special education services. She struggled with online learning and fell behind once the school stopped in-person learning because of the pandemic. In May, her probation officer filed a violation against her.
This case has garnered national attention and has sparked several protests outside of the courthouse. Members of Congress, Birmingham Public Schools board members and state lawmakers have called for Grace to be released. According to the outlet, the Michigan Supreme Court’s oversight agency has launched a review of the case.
The prosecutor’s office will have until Friday (July 24) to respond to Grace’s attorney’s motion to reconsider the ruling of the probation violation.