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Judge who sent Michigan teen to juvenile facility for not doing her homework denies early release

2020-07-22

The Michigan judge who took criticism nationwide when she sent a 15-year-old girl to a juvenile facility because she didn’t do her school work came under more fire on Monday, after she denied the teen an early release.

Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Mary Ellen Brennan claimed that her decision was in the girl’s best interest, because Brennan believed that the teen was a threat to her mother and the community.

“My role is to make decisions that are in this young lady’s best interest, period,” Brennan said. “I took an oath that I would not be swayed by public clamor or fear of criticism.”

The girl, who has been referred to as “Grace” to protect her identity, was placed on probation in April due to allegations of assault and theft. Among the requirements of her probation was that she complete her schoolwork, but Grace, who suffers from ADHD, struggled with the coronavirus-induced transition to online learning and fell behind. On May 14, she was sentenced to detention for violating her probation.

After news outlets like ProPublica picked up the story, many people pointed to the case as an example of how Black children are treated unfairly by the criminal justice system, and how they can get harshly punished for behavior that might be dismissed in the case of a white child.

“People need to learn how to work with our kids,” said Monique Campbell, who joined protesters outside the court on Monday, to AP. “There needs to be equitable treatment of all kids, and we need to realize there isn’t.”