“After spending so many years ashamed of being kicked out of high school, I realized the negative impact harsh student discipline and juvenile justice policies can have on children and their likelihood of entering the criminal justice system,” said Debra Máres, a veteran Riverside County prosecutor and co-founder and executive director of Women Wonder Writers, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and implementing mentoring programs for youth and helping them transcend the cycle of victimization. Máres will share her story and explore alternative restorative justice models in the breakout session, “Pushed Out and Applying to Prison.” Máres works extensively with juvenile court prosecutors, school districts and organizations in the public and private sectors. “Detention, prosecution and incarceration are not the only options. Prevention, intervention and rehabilitation are equally important solutions,” Máres said.
Debra Máres is an attorney, writer, teacher and speaker. She has inspired countless lives and her female empowerment program grows resilience in young women through journaling, cultural arts and restorative justice.
As co-founder and executive director of Women Wonder Writers, Máres collaborates with several organizations including the Riverside County Sheriff Department, probation, police, school districts, educators, and attorneys in Riverside County, and other non-profit and faith-based organizations that support youth and their families.
Máres is a deputy district attorney in the Riverside District Attorney’s Office. Her assignments have included Juvenile Court, overseeing a team of juvenile court prosecutors and the Countywide School Attendance Review Board (SARB) prosecutor, overseeing a team of SARB prosecutors, and working with school districts and organizations in the public and private sectors to implement innovative strategies to reduce chronic absenteeism, suspensions, dropout rates, juvenile truancy and delinquency.
She also worked on the Youth Accountability Team where she monitored more than 100 youth in juvenile probation diversion programs. Máres previously represented the district attorney at parole suitability hearings for convicted murderers and over the years, has prosecuted cases involving sexual assault and child abuse, domestic violence, political corruption, group home fraud, gang crimes and homicides. She has participated in Gang Intervention For Teens – GIFT – a law enforcement gang prevention program.
Máres has garnered numerous awards in Riverside County including Community Hero in 2012, Prosecutor of Year in 2006 and 2009 and the Bulldog: Stick it To Em award.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Máres is the author of the The Mamacita Murders, a legal thriller, and It’s This Monkey’s Business, a children’s book that tackles domestic violence and divorce.
Máres sits on the steering committees of the Riverside Police Department Youth Court and the Jurupa Unified School District Student Court. She serves on the board of directors of the California Association of Youth Courts, the Inlandia Institute, and Gateway College & Career Academy.
Máres holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA and obtained her law degree from Loyola Law School.