Some are mothers. Some are daughters. Some are wives. They all represent a sisterhood of prosecutors nationwide.
Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy organized a slightly more than two-hour virtual town hall on Facebook with about a dozen Black women prosecutors from across the country to discuss challenges in the elected position.
The session, titled “Power, Prowess and Pearls,” happened two days after a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on three counts in the murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day last year.
“We all share a bond that is unlike any other,” Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said Thursday, April 22. “We battle for one another and we are always willing to battle for our community.”
According to the Reflective Democracy Campaign, Black women account for one percent of the prosecutors in the United States.
Because of that low figure, some of the women acknowledged they experience racism and misogyny from their white counterparts.
“After five years in, there are still people I am discovering that are there trying to undermine the work I am trying to do,” said Darcel Clark, the district attorney in Bronx County, N.Y. “They serve at the pleasure of the district attorney. I only need people that understand and get this work.”
The role of a prosecutor carries weight because that person can determine what civil and criminal charges can be filed in court.
Braveboy, who moderated the gathering, said more progressive policies and agendas are needed in “making the system fair and smarter and more efficient.”
The state’s attorney office usually works with law enforcement agencies, but the video of Floyd being kneed in the neck by Chauvin created a nationwide focus on police reform. Braveboy asked her colleagues how’s their relationship with law enforcement officials.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said she’s “got a strained relationship with law enforcement.” Some of those reasons include the state legislature allowing her office to investigate all deaths at the hands of police, inspect police misconduct and make disciplinary records public, primarily with the New York City Police Department.
Stephanie Morales, the first woman elected as a Commonwealth’s attorney in Portsmouth, Va., said her priority rests with the community.
“Everybody wants to get into this discussion about what’s the relationship like with the police, but we should be talking about a relationship with the community, she said. “I’m a public servant first and a prosecutor second.”
The prosecutors also summarized particular programs they’ve instituted in their jurisdictions.
Sherry Boston, the district attorney in DeKalb County, Ga., created a diversion program for those ages 17 to 24. After successful completion, her office will dismiss any charges of serious but nonviolent offenses.
Braveboy said her office doesn’t request cash bail as a condition of release for those in the county jail.
She will seek the assistance of Kim Foxx, the state’s attorney in Cook County, Ill., to propose legislation to end the practice in the entire state of Maryland.
The state of Illinois became the first state in the nation last month to end the cash bail, which gradually goes into full effect in 2023.
Near the end of the discussion, Braveboy summarized “why she’s here” as a state’s attorney.
“I take these crimes and issues personally,” she said. “I work to not only bring justice, but also dignity to the victims. I’m a reflection of my community and not everyone is perfect in the community.
She continued: “If you’re someone who has served a significant portion of time and has shown you have been rehabilitated and have been redeemed, I’m here for you, too, because our system must and will be balanced.”