LIHU’E — Kaua‘i’s first woman prosecutor has announced her intent to seek reelection in 2012.
Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, who served two terms on the Kaua‘i County Council, became county prosecutor in 2008 after running unopposed.
A graduate of Kapa‘a High School and University of Hawai‘i’s William S. Richardson School of Law, Iseri-Carvalho has devoted more than 20 years of her legal career to public service, states a press release from the prosecutor.
Iseri-Carvalho began her legal career by clerking for Judge Donald Tsukiyama in 1989, drafting memos for murder trials.
She later served as a deputy public defender on O‘ahu and Maui for four years. In 1996, she returned to Kaua‘i, where she was appointed deputy prosecuting attorney. As a deputy prosecutor, Iseri-Carvalho was recognized by the attorney general for achieving an unprecedented 96 percent conviction rate for violent crime and sexual assault cases, the release states.
While in office, Iseri-Carvalho has maintained a full caseload, handling murder, sexual assault and other high-profile felony cases.
She has also made changes in the way criminal prosecutions are handled within the county, the release states.
That has included implementing a vertical prosecution model in which the office is divided into specific units that specialize in sexual assaults, crimes against persons, drug crimes, property crimes, domestic violence and career criminal prosecution. Each of these units have achieved and maintained conviction rates above 95 percent since being established in early 2009.
During her inauguration speech in 2008, Iseri-Carvalho described her vision for the future for the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, which included the establishment of diversion programs for nonviolent offenders.
Fulfilling this vision, she recently announced the implementation of the P.O.H.A.K.U. project.
The program, which stands for Productive Optimism Helps All Kaua‘i Unite, will allow non-violent misdemeanor offenders the opportunity to give back to the community through education and cultural community service projects in lieu of facing the traditional punishments of fines, probation and imprisonment.
“I want the legacy of my service to be an enduring respect for the ‘ohana, the ‘aina and the kai ulu,” Iseri-Carvalho said. “Through maintaining the highest possible conviction rates, providing victims with a voice in the criminal justice process and implementing the P.O.H.A.K.U. project, I am committed to upholding my office’s guiding principle of Pono Kaulike, equal rights and justice for all.”
In 2011, Iseri-Carvalho was unanimously elected to a two-year term as president of the Hawai‘i Prosecuting Attorneys’ Association, an organization made up of the prosecuting attorneys from each county, the attorney general, and the United States attorney for the District of Hawai‘i.
She also serves as a member of the Law Enforcement Coalition, a group made up of the police chiefs and prosecuting attorneys of Hawai‘i’s four counties, the attorney general, and the United States attorney for the District of Hawai‘i, the press release states.