A 15-year-old girl from Michigan is currently in a juvenile detention facility for failing to complete her homework amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The teen, who is referred to as ‘Grace’ in a ProPublica article published about the incident, was sent to the Children’s Village detention center in Detroit on May 14 after a judge declared that the youngster’s failure to complete school work had violated the terms of her parole.
Last year, Grace was charged with stealing another student’s cellphone and assaulting her own mother during a row.
Charissa explained that Grace suffers from ADHD, and that the pair had begun family therapy after the assault.
During sentencing in April, Grace tearfully begged judge Mary Ellen Brennan not to send her to a juvenile detention facility.
‘My mom and I do get into a lot of arguments, but with each one I learn something and try to analyze why it happened,’ the teen sobbed.
‘My mom and I are working each day to better ourselves and our relationship, and I think that the removal from my home would be an intrusion on our progress.’
Judge Brennan instead sentenced her to strict probation that included the completion of all schoolwork.
However, with schools ordered closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Grace’s routine was upended, and her caseworker, Rachel Giroux, soon became concerned that classwork was not being done.
In an email penned to Giroux, Grace’s teacher wrote: ‘Let me be clear that this is no one’s fault because we did not see this unprecedented global pandemic coming.
‘Grave has a strong desire to do well… [and] is trying to get to the other side of a steep learning curve mountain and we have a plan for her to get there’.
However, Grace failed to complete all schoolwork in the subsequent weeks, prompting Grioux to file a violation of probation.
‘She clearly doesn’t want to abide by the rules in the community,’ Giroux wrote.
On May 14, Judge Brennan ordered Grace to Children’s Village. She claimed the sentence was not intended to be a punishment, but would rather be an opportunity for the teen to get treatment and services.
However, Grace was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs and ankle shackles.
Charisse said watching her daughter being taken away was particularly traumatic given that they are both black.
‘For us and our culture, that for me was the knife stuck in my stomach and turning,’ Charisse told ProPublica.
‘That is our history, being shackled. And she didn’t deserve that.’
Charisse shared a heartbreaking letter handwritten by Grace inside the detention center.
‘I want to change. I want to be a better person. Here I’ve realized how much you care and love me. I’m sorry I took that for granted. Please continue to send me pictures of me and you or just with anyone. I love you mommy and I miss you,’ the letter reads.
Grace will remain inside Children’s Village until a new hearing is held on September 8.