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Teenager Sent to Juvenile Detention for Not Doing Homework

A single mom was heartbroken after her teenaged daughter was sentenced to Juvenile Hall. What was the offense that warranted such a punishment? Failing to finish her homework. ProPublica reported that Charisse and her teenage daughter Grace were given a strict warning from Judge Mary Ellen Brennan of Oakland County after Grace was placed on probation following theft and assault charges.

Brennan said, “I told her she was on thin ice and I told her that I was going to hold her to the letter of the probation.” She required that Grace submit to GPS monitoring, counseling, visits from a case worker, restrictions on phone and internet access, and keep up with her schoolwork.

The problem arose after Grace’s school responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Charisse, Grace’s mood disorder and ADHD required an individualized education plan that mandated extra teacher support to help keep her on track with assignments. Once classes went online, that support went away.

Nevertheless, new caseworker Rachel Giroux heard in a check-in that Grace had fallen asleep during class and failed to turn in an assignment. Giroux filed a violation of probation report on Grace, despite failing to check in with Grace’s teacher to verify her progress. After the violation was filed, Grace’s teacher told Giroux that she was “not out of alignment with most of my other students.” But that failed to change her mind. Giroux asked the judge to place Grace in detention because she “clearly doesn’t want to abide by the rules in the community.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

In our effort to train up our young people, our punitive actions should be guided by grace and mercy as acts of restoration, not retribution, lest we sentence punishments that make things worse in the long run.

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