The 15-year-old Black girl who was being kept at a juvenile facility in Oakland County, Michigan, for failing to do her class assignments, has finally been granted her release.
A three-judge appellate panel with the Michigan Court of Appeals determined Friday that the teen, who is known only by the pseudonym “Grace,” will be immediately released into her mother’s custody.
Grace had been detained since May 14, after violating her probation by missing homework assignments that were part of her remote learning curriculum. The teen, who is diagnosed with ADHD, was first sentenced to probation after stealing a cellphone from a classmate sometime last year and biting her mother’s hand last November. After violating the probation, she was tasked with completing a “treatment program” at the Children’s Village detention center.
Grace’s unique case first began to receive national attention following an investigation from Pro Publica earlier this month, sparking outrage among parents and educators, as well as online campaigns and protests to free the young girl. She became the latest poster child of the over-policing of young Black children in America. A petition organized by a group of organizations known as the #FreeGrace community collective on the website Change.org received over 314,000 signatures in support of her release.
Despite the national anger, Grace’s attempts to appeal her stay at the detention center were denied by Oakland County Family Court Division Judge Mary Ellen Brennan, who called her “a threat to the community” when she was first sentenced back in mid-May.
”No question in my mind you miss your mother, terribly; your mother misses you terribly,” Brennan told a sobbing Grace in court earlier this month when she told the judge she missed her mom. “No question in my mind: The right thing right now is for you guys to be separated until when I put you back together.”
While Grace’s mother has yet to release a statement, the Michigan Liberation Action Fund, one of the many organizations part of the #FreeGrace Collective, tweeted about the good news.
“Grace is going home!” the tweet said. “[Fifteen-year-old] Black girl in detention for not doing online work is getting released! THANKS to all who helped make this possible... let us not forget the countless 'Grace's' still out there. Just another example of why Oakland County needs a new prosecutor.”
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