What if police officers and prosecutors put their law books and police reports down to focus on preventing crime? Instead of arresting and prosecuting people, they would intervene early and steer a slipping individual back on track. Does this make for a good story? Or a good movie? Gaby Ruiz, the main character and Latina prosecutor in my debut novel, The Mamacita Murders seems to think so.
Gaby Ruiz runs The Mamacita Club, a community outreach effort, from her chrome vintage Airstream motorhome. Gaby travels in the Airstream with her angel friends to different trailer parks in the fictional Tuckford County. They host interventions and meetings to help women, who are at risk of becoming victims of crime or committing crimes themselves. Gaby’s special angel powers help her see who needs help. Plus her gut intuition tells her. In real life, this is called community prosecution. Attorneys, paralegals, police officers, and probation officers go out into the community and bring awareness about crime and how to prevent it. They monitor youth and come up with strict programs to get them back on track.
But community prosecution is rarely depicted in the media or crime novels. Traditionally, the prosecutor is depicted in the courtroom, not the community. The detectives are seen out in the street solving crimes, not preventing them. Why is that?
Is community prosecution not sexy enough? Is it not as juicy as a crime scene or interrogation? Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter. It’s a facet of the criminal justice system that the public should be more aware of. Community prosecution is a proven method at reducing crime rates; it’s just not frequently used.
The media has the power to move people and motivate social change, and indeed community prosecution is a sexy enough facet of the criminal justice system worth moving. It can make for good story telling as well. Take for example Freedom Writers, a film starring Hilary Swank grossing over 43 million dollars based on the New York Times Bestseller The Freedom Writer’s Diary. This movie portrayed the real life story of school teacher Erin Gruwell and Room 203 at Wilson High School in Long Beach. Gruwell transformed her classroom made up of “rejects” into motivated graduates, many who went on to college. It was all because she believed in them and intervened early to help steer them back on track. Gruwell’s creative education wasn’t boring on the big screen or in Room 203. Perhaps it was the real-life story of Erin Gruwell combined with the stories of her students, which made it the success it was. Regardless, it made for a great story. And it transformed education. Teachers today employ Gruwell’s lessons and students everywhere are still motivated by them.
Following similar suit in the context of a crime fiction, The Mamacita Murders tells Gaby Ruiz’ story. She goes out into the community to help troubled women, which has always been Gaby’s mission, at least since she was twelve years old when her mother died and became the angel on her shoulder. Gaby Ruiz’ story and The Mamacita Club is not that far off from what real life community prosecutors do today. And it’s not very different from what heroes like Erin Gruwell have done. So what do you think? Does community prosecution make for a good story? Is it sexy enough for crime fiction and the big screen? Does it work in The Mamacita Murders? Would it work in non-fiction?
Email me your comments to Debra@DebraMaresNovels.com. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR…Debra is the granddaughter of a Mexican migrant farm worker and factory seamstress, was born and raised in Los Angeles, is the first to graduate college in her family, and grew up dancing Ballet Folklorico and Salsa. Debra followed a calling at eleven years old to be an attorney and voice for women, currently lives in Orange County, and appreciates international travel and culture. She has been a county prosecutor in Riverside, California since 2004 and is assigned to the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit. Debra has prosecuted cases ranging from gang homicides and domestic violence to political corruption and major fraud. Debra co-founded Women Wonder Writers, a community outreach organization and co-created The Write of Your Life, a mentorship and writing program for at-risk young women throughout Riverside County. The Mamacita Murders is Debra’s first novel and first in a series of legal thrillers and chick lit mysteries.
To follow The Mamacita Murders and Gaby Ruiz’ next call to action, visit www.DebraMaresNovels.com.
When Laura, a seventeen year old key witness goes missing during trial, Assistant Prosecutor Gaby Ruiz is called to action. Ruiz investigates the sexual assault on Laura, who is left for dead in a motel in a drug- and gang-ridden community. Did Clown, Laura’s boyfriend, try to kill her when she tried to leave the Lincoln Gang’s prostitution ring or – did a random assailant ransack Laura’s room and assault her or – or did law enforcement try to kill Laura to protect one of their own? The investigation twists from the backwoods in Tuckford County to the back rooms of law enforcement buildings all the way to the Walled City.
Gabriela Ruiz is a sex crimes prosecutor in Tuckford County and runs The Mamacita Club, a community outreach effort from her chrome Vintage Airstream motorhome. She travels with her girlfriends around the county to reach at-risk women. Women affected by drugs, gang and domestic violence, sex crimes, and broken homes–they’re all in The Mamacita Club. Gaby has spent all of her professional life seeking justice for others. But it is not until Laura goes missing, that Gaby is able to start searching for justice for herself and begin to fix her own guilt-ridden past for not protecting her mom from an abusive relationship–this time to save her own life and seek closure over her own mother’s death.
- Print Length: 246 pages
- Publisher: Justicia House (January 29, 2012)
BUY THE BOOK… The Mamacita Murders, Vol. 1 for your favorite reading device at Smashwords or for Kindle at Amazon. The Mamacita Murders is due out in print in May 2012, just in time for your summer vacación.