Yesenia,
(She/Her)
Prosecutor

Transcript- On Justice:

...I think that was when I really found my passion for my job again, when I got the sense that I was doing.. you know the trigger word 'justice'.. But when I was able to do justice and work towards that. That's when it kind of reignited in me, 'this is why I'm here'....

 

I've always wanted to be an attorney. My mother was a defense attorney for 15 years- most of my childhood. So being around her, all the other attorneys I grew up around because they were all her friends, it really was getting to dive into the criminal justice system. I grew up thinking lawyers were women of color because all of the lawyers I was surrounded by were women of color so to grow up and find out it was mostly white men was kind of a surprise to me!

 

Seeing that navigation between people of color, women of color, in particular, was really important to me because I was able to understand the nuances that come from a diverse background had. And then once I began to recognize that that's a minority, it further encouraged me to be that person that enters myself into these spaces to make sure that perspective isn't lost in this sea of.. you know... 

One thing that I've noticed and I think is very important is persistence; making sure that you're constantly reinforcing the idea that things need to change. But with that being said, one thing I've noticed is the benefit of making connections with individuals in these spaces where decisions are being made so that you can infiltrate these spaces and ensure that the right messages are getting heard

Transcript: On Mentorship

... It's really, really helpful to have people who have been in my position, not only to help me advance my career and give me advice and stuff like that, but to help me the inherent struggles of being a black prosecutor has been really really helpful. Particularly because a lot of these people were prosecutors in a time when things were way less welcoming than they are for me now.

 

So I have the great benefit of being a prosecutor in 2020 with all the criminal justice reform and in a progressive office. But prosecution has not always been that, sometimes it's not that, (especially depending on where you are in the country). Not every office is perfect.

 

So to have these voices of these people who have had these experiences, like 'oh what does it feel like to arraign a case when the defendant looks like they could be my relative?' You know? Those kinds of things and how you grapple with them. Those conversations have been really beneficial for me.