Congressman Andy Levin Statement on Incarceration of Black Michigan Student Who Did Not Complete Her Homework

July 15, 2020
Press Release
Levin calls on court review its decision in light of state guidance to limit juvenile detention except in cases of dire emergency

WARREN, MI – Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09), Vice Chair of the House Education & Labor Committee, today released the following statement on the incarceration of a Black student in Beverly Hills who did not complete her assigned online coursework during the COVID-19 pandemic:

“As Beverly Hills’ representative in the U.S. House Representatives and the proud dad of four Birmingham Public School kids, including two Groves High School graduates, I am deeply disturbed by the decision of a Michigan circuit judge to sentence a Black high school student to confinement in a juvenile detention facility for the apparent crime of not doing her online coursework. This punitive sentence has unnecessarily separated a child from her mother during a global pandemic and put both at risk.

“From publicly available information, the case to detain this student has serious deficiencies. The prosecution’s only witness was unaware of the student’s learning disabilities. Witnesses who could have provided a better understanding of the situation, like the student’s teachers, were unable to testify.

“Moreover, the infraction that sent this student to juvenile detention was trivial. I am saddened to have to state the obvious: We should not be locking up children for not doing their homework.

“Unfortunately, this case is reflective of the harsh penalties children of color face throughout Michigan and the United States when dealing with the criminal justice system. In our state, Black children are incarcerated at four times the rate of white children. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is tragic to see the criminal justice system follow Black youth into their homes. Now more than ever we need to sever the school-to-prison pipeline that is denying students of color in Michigan the freedom and success they deserve. 

“There is still time to rekindle the flame of justice in this case. I call on the court to review its decision in light of state guidance to limit juvenile detention except in cases of dire emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bring this student home to her mother now.”