Report: Kids as young as grade school being sent to juvenile detention for skipping class

GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY -- Juvenile courts in Washington are putting minors behind bars for skipping school, reports, leading the nation in juvenile detention rates for non-criminal offenses.

Skipping school in itself is not a crime in Washington state, according to the Superintendent of Public Instruction's Office. But kids remanded to Truancy court, a special court for students who have seven unexcused absences in a month or 10 in a year, are sometimes being sent to juvenile detention.

KUOW reports that once a student has reported to Truancy court, any unexcused absences following the violation can be considered contempt. And contempt can lead to detention.

Most students are remanded to juvenile detention for one or two days following the contempt of court charge, KUOW reports. Usually the students sent to juvenile detention for skipping school come from high schools. But sometimes, kids from elementary school are locked up, KUOW reports.

Super Court Judge David Edwards is part of a Grays Harbor County court system that leads the state in detaining children for truancy. He told KUOW detention was an "important tool" for making kids realize they are doing themselves harm in skipping. Recently, Edwards sentenced two brothers to juvenile detention. When one of the brothers started to cry -- along with their mother who was in the court at the hearing -- Edwards spoke up.

"Don't cry," Edwards told the teens, KUOW reports. "There's nothing to cry about."