Grace, a Black teenager locked behind bars for missing schoolwork, was finally freed. But that could all change.

  • by: Care2 Team
  • recipient: Judge Mary Ellen Brennan

By now, you've probably heard Grace's story. In May of 2020, in the midst of a pandemic and a national outcry to empty prisons, the 15-year-old was locked behind bars for failing to complete homework. She was on par with the rest of the students in her class, but Grace is Black -- most of her peers are white -- and it's common knowledge that in the United States, Black teens are criminalized for normal adolescent behavior far more often than their white cohorts. There is even a word for this: adultification.

That's why it was so exciting when, just as the world was losing hope for Grace's release, a court of appeals reversed Judge Mary Ellen Brennan's decision to keep the teenager imprisoned. Grace and her mother, a single parent, were reunited after months of fear, heartbreak, and injustice. The fight was over. Or so they thought.

Unbelievably, the justice system is dragging Grace back to court for a review hearing to sit in front of the very judge that threw her in jail and refused to release her. Sign the petition and demand that Judge Mary Ellen Brennan recuse herself from Grace's case before this happens!

This case has understandably gotten a great deal of media attention. With COVID-19 ravaging prisons, killing hundreds of inmates across the country, and in the wake of the protests calling for justice for the murders of George Gloyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many other Black Americans at the hands of police, it is no surprise that Grace's case struck a chord with so many. And while that media attention is vastly in support of Grace and her release, that means that it has widely (and correctly) criticized Judge Brennan's decision-making. This media attention has clouded Judge Brennan's judgement, her ability to reassess and reconsider, and has many wondering whether she holds some sort of grudge against Grace. 

The review hearing comes just two weeks after Grace's release, even though it was originally scheduled for September. Judge Mary Ellen Brennan inexplicably moved up the date, with no regard for the possible trauma or harm that such a quick turnaround could have on the young girl. Judge Brennan, who jeopardized Grace's anonymity by inviting the media into the courtroom during a hearing where sensitive medical information was revealed, is no longer fit to make an impartial, fair decision. 

Grace's review hearing is Tuesday, August 11. We have no time to lose. Please sign the petition and ask that Judge Mary Ellen Brennan recuse herself from this case so that a fair, impartial decision can be made for the sake of Grace's health, safety, and future.

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