Teen sent to juvenile detention center for not doing online schoolwork

A 15-year-old is in juvenile detention despite the pandemic after a judge ruled she violated probation

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In a stunning turn of events, a 15-year-old student in Michigan has been sent to juvenile detention during the pandemic after a judge ruled that she violated her probation by not completing her online schoolwork.

The teen, only identified to the public as Grace, had originally gotten into trouble for fighting with her mother and stealing, but had since cleaned up her act, and had near-perfect attendance at her school, ProPublica reports.

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“It just doesn’t make any sense,” said her stunned mother, who points out she had been kept away from her child for a month before being allowed to visit her at the Children’s Village juvenile detention center in suburban Detroit.

Despite the nation being the epicenter of a global pandemic that mandates social distancing, in May, Grace’s family was stunned and devastated when a judge incarcerated the child for not completing her online coursework after her school switched to remote learning.

Local advocates are outraged and say they are unaware of any other case involving the use of juvenile detention for a child failing to meet academic requirements after schools closed due to the spread of COVID-19.

“Who can even be a good student right now?” said Ricky Watson Jr., executive director of the National Juvenile Justice Network. “Unless there is an urgent need, I don’t understand why you would be sending a kid to any facility right now and taking them away from their families with all that we are dealing with right now.”

Some experts also believe that this case may also reflect the systemic racial bias that has impacted Black communities during the pandemic. Grace’s mother agrees with that assessment given she and her child live in a predominantly white community where Black youth are disproportionately targeted by the justice system including the use of juvenile detention.

Seeing her child led out of the courtroom in handcuffs was heartbreaking for Charisse.

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“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.”

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