"In California, students practice earthquake drills in school. When I was growing up in Colombia, we had bomb drills because there were regular explosions set off in malls and grocery stores,” said Mafé Rajul, senior deputy prosecuting attorney.
“When people think about Colombia in the ‘80s, they think of Pablo Escobar and drug cartels. It really was like that. It was frustrating to see how corrupt people were at all levels. The prosecutors or judges who were honest were getting murdered. No one was held accountable for justice,” Rajul said.
Rajul’s father passed away when she was 8. Her mother owned a bookstore to support herself and her only daughter. Up close, Rajul saw more coercion and corruption when employees stole from her mother and threatened to kidnap Rajul if her mother tried to take any action against them.
At 17, Rajul moved to Washington to attend university and improve her English skills. Rajul took on several jobs to work her way through college, including a position as a court interpreter.
“In court, I saw people being held accountable for their actions. The legal system was respected. It made me want to be a part of the system that upheld laws,” Rajul said. She graduated from the University of Washington law school in 2006, intent on working as a prosecutor.
Today, Rajul works in the economic crimes unit of the King County Prosecutor’s office. She respects the system that presumes a defendant’s innocence and protects individual rights. But she is also an advocate for victims of crime. In a case where a defendant was on trial for 18 counts of residential burglary and money laundering, Rajul personally called each victim to show up at the sentencing hearing.
“All of the victims showed up,” Rajul said, proudly. “At a sentencing hearing, it’s the one place victims have the right to speak, to tell a judge what they went through and how crime has affected them and impacted their lives.”
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