A Michigan teen named Grace remains incarnated this week despite cries to free her. The young woman was locked up in juvenile detention after she was deemed to be a threat to herself and her mother. The story echos the sad truth for kids around America who have found themselves locked up and lost in the countries juvenile detention system.
On any given day, almost 60,000 kids under the age of 18 are incarcerated in juvenile jails and prisons across the United States. While the number varies per state, the truth is that confining young people – cutting them off from their families, disrupting their educations, and often exposing them surroundings that can lead to further trauma and violence – harms their development and has lifelong negative consequences.
The ACLU has a map on their website detailing the amount of kids incarcerated per state. The map reflects alarming numbers across the country, particularly in states like California, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Wyoming.
For Grace in Michigan, it was initially reported that she was jailed due to failure in completing her online school work. In an article by Fox News, it was clarified that her incarceration was much more complicated than that. Judge Mary Ellen Brennan, the presiding judge of the Oakland County Family Court, stated that Grace violated probation by failing to finish her online schoolwork. The child was actually in jail for fighting her mother and committing theft at her school.
I recently spent the day with Grace, the teen I wrote about this summer who was sent to juvenile detention after not doing her schoolwork.— Jodi Cohen (@Jodiscohen) October 31, 2020
This is the first time Grace has spoken publicly about her case.
She has a lot to say.https://t.co/hDphi18Nnl
Grace suffers from ADHD, a condition that makes it hard for her to focus on her online work. However, the terms of her sentence required her to complete the work that was assigned online due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking on her progress, Brennan believes that while Grace is doing better, she still has a lot of work to do. Brennan feels that more time in juve will benefit the girl, and that she shouldn’t go back home just yet.
If Grace don’t get no justice, y’all don’t get no peace. #FreeGrace— Detroit Will Breathe (@DETWILLBREATHE) July 30, 2020
“I think you are exactly where you are supposed to be,” Brennan told Grace, “You are blooming there, but there is more work to be done.”
“She was not detained because she didn’t turn her homework in,” Brennan said during the hearing on Monday. “She was detained because I found her to be a threat of harm to her mother based on everything I knew.”
Many feel this was the wrong judgement, and have began protest and demonstrations to free the girl, using the hashtag #freegrace.
At Groves High School, a line of cars are parking to protest the detention of 15-year-old Grace, the subject of @ProPublicaIL’s investigation. She was sent for missing online coursework. The protest is organized by @MILiberation and will go to down Telegraph. @freep #FreeGrace pic.twitter.com/pdENKTEDp4— nisa khan (@mnisakhan) July 16, 2020