In a troubling new report published by INDY Week, the North Carolina paper raised concerns about a Raleigh 17-year-old who has been in police custody since March 7 following a minor disturbance on a school bus.
Although the school considered the fight a minor infraction—a Level 2 of 5—punishable by only a few days of suspension, the school resource officer, a fully certified police officer with the authority to arrest students, took her to jail, he said, so she could "learn a lesson."
Though it seems like three weeks should be considered an unjustly long punishment, Garcia remains in custody due to a bizarre legal technicality.
Garcia's attorney, Jennifer Story of Legal Aid N.C., said that on March 10, her client's first court appearance, a Wake County judge told Garcia she could leave jail at the end of the day. However, Garcia's legal guardian, the N.C. Division of Social Services, has not sent anyone to pick her up. Garcia cannot leave on her own since she is not 18.
An added irony to the case is that North Carolina treats 16 and 17-year-olds as adults, without the option to try them as juveniles. When she appears in court this week, she'll face charges of assault and battery.
The paper went on to interview Garcia, who is trying to stay upbeat despite her situation. Garcia is an aspiring singer, who says jail is difficult because she doesn't have music around her for support. "It's just hard," she says. "But it's definitely not breaking me." Garcia and her attorney decided to make her name public, even though she is a minor, in order to raise awareness about her case. "I'm behind bars," says Garcia. "But my voice is still out there."
[via Indy Week]