A 15-year-old Black girl who was being detained in a juvenile facility in Detroit for failing to complete online schoolwork has been granted release by the Michigan Court of Appeals.
The teenage girl in question, referred to as Grace to protect her privacy, had been held in detention at the Children’s Village center for 78 days since being ordered there by Judge Mary Ellen Brennan in May.
Despite widespread outcry after ProPublica Illinois reported on the case in July, publicizing it at a time when conversations about systemic racism are happening nationally, Judge Brennan denied a recent request from Grace’s lawyers to release her from detention.
Thankfully, her lawyers Jonathan Biernat and Saima Khalil took it to the state’s appellate court who ruled on Friday that Grace could go home.
The three-judge appellate court panel ordered that Grace be “immediately released from detention to the custody of her mother.” She will remain free pending the appeal of Judge Mary Ellen Brennan’s decision in May that found Grace “guilty on failure to submit to any schoolwork and getting up for school.” Brennan called Grace a “threat to (the) community,” citing the assault and theft charges that led to her probation this spring.
Michigan lawmakers and school board members have called for the girl’s release, more than 300,000 people signed an online petition and federal lawmakers asked the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Justice Department to intervene. There were several protests outside the courthouse where the case was heard.
Grace will remain on probation pending a final ruling on Judge Brennan’s decision. She will be on home arrest and have to wear a GPS tether, which makes me feel saddened and heartbroken in a way I cannot fully describe.
According to ProPublica, the terms of Grace’s release require her to have individual and family counseling, have limited access to phones outside of permission from her probation officer, follow her mother’s rules, and attend school and do schoolwork as directed.
A statement released on behalf of Grace and her mother said, “They are both extremely and deeply appreciative of the outpouring of support from around the country, and for Grace’s release; she is anxious to be with her family.”
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