Black Teen Girl Jailed Over Homework Denied Release by White Judge

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[Judge Mary Ellen Brennan]
ProPublica: "After the hearing, Grace and her mother, Charisse, embraced for more than a minute, the first time they have had physical contact since May 14 because of COVID-19 restrictions. They sobbed audibly through their masks."
Photo: YouTube

Despicable family court judge Mary Ellen Brennaan is latest example of racist legal system that criminalizes Black children.

A Michigan family court judge Monday denied a motion to release a teenager who has been held at a juvenile facility since mid-May for violating probation after not doing her online schoolwork, saying the girl will benefit from ongoing treatment there.

“I think you are exactly where you are supposed to be,” the presiding judge of the Oakland County Family Court Division, Mary Ellen Brennan, told the 15-year-old. “You are blooming there, but there is more work to be done.”

The decision came despite an argument from the attorneys of the teenager, Grace*, that the therapy and educational support she receives at the facility are inadequate and a statement by the prosecutor that his office supported her release. Caseworkers for the court and Children’s Village, where she is being held, testified she should be kept at the facility until she completes the monthslong program.

After the hearing, Grace and her mother, Charisse, embraced for more than a minute, the first time they have had physical contact since May 14 because of COVID-19 restrictions. They sobbed audibly through their masks before leaving the courtroom separately.

During the two-hour hearing at the Oakland County court, Brennan also mounted a defense of her initial decision in May to place Grace in detention for the probation violation, devoting about 45 minutes to recounting the troubled relationship between the girl and her mother.

Brennan began by speaking directly to the girl, saying she wanted to ensure the information was on the record: “This morning for you, respectfully, it is going to get worse before it gets better. Because I am about to go over all the crap, all the negative, all the prior attempts at helping. I am going through it all.”

The case, which has drawn national scrutiny, was detailed in a ProPublica Illinois investigation co-published last week with the Detroit Free Press and Bridge Magazine. It has sparked several protests outside the courthouse, and members of Congress, state lawmakers and Birmingham Public Schools board members have called for Grace’s release.

To read the rest of this Pro Publica story log on here: https://www.propublica.org/article/judge-wont-free-michigan-teenager-sen...

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