Q&A WITH NERD NITE MIAMI’S SARA Yousuf

sara headshot

We’re less than a week away from our highly-anticipated PAMM Free Community Night: Nerd Nite at PAMM. Join us for an evening of three fun-yet-informative presentations across all disciplines, complete with beer on the evening of Thursday, February 1.

We chatted with Nerd Nite speaker Sara Yousuf who will be presenting on the nuttiness of Florida’s legal system with her talk “Florida Man Goes to Jail.”

Check out our interview and learn more about her talk below:

PAMM: What sparked your interest in criminal law?
I entered law school hoping to practice civil rights law, like many of my heroes. During my internship at the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office, I met countless Floridians threatened with the loss of their civil rights based on criminal accusations. Quickly, I realized that in the context of mass incarceration and disenfranchisement of convicted felons, criminal defense work is civil rights work.

Describe Florida in three words.
Beachy bizarre swampland.

What advice do you have for others pursuing a career in criminal defense?
The 6th Amendment ensures the right to a public trial. This means that (absent a few exceptions), you can walk into a courtroom and watch a trial or proceeding. Take the time to understand the on-the-ground reality of our criminal punishment system. It’s free and endlessly fascinating.

How can the community get involved with Engage Miami and Emerge Miami?
Emerge Miami meets every Tuesday at 7pm at Sweat Records. Join us as we work toward a Miami that represents our values of compassion, environmental stewardship, and community. Follow @EngageMia on Facebook and attend a voter-registration training—democracy works better when more people participate.

What does it mean to you to speak at Nerd Nite at PAMM?
As a lifelong nerd, I’m honored to speak at Nerd Nite at PAMM. I’m tickled at the opportunity to share knowledge with my fellow nerds and deepen our collective understanding of how punishment in Florida works.

“Florida Man Goes to Jail” by Sara Yousuf
A criminal justice nerd walks through the insane and irrational rules of Florida’s penal system. Did you know that in Florida it’s more serious to attend a cockfight than to commit your second DUI? Did you know that in Florida your driver’s license will be suspended for failing to pay child support (thereby making it harder to pay child support)? Did you know that in Florida it’s more serious to steal copper wire from a house than to commit rape? OMG WTF.

Sara Yousuf, Esq. is a board-certified criminal defense attorney who has represented Miami’s indigent accused for 12 years. She chairs Engage Miami, a nonprofit that involves young people in local politics. Yousuf co-founded Emerge Miami, a grassroots community group that makes Miami better through progressive social events, and she also co-founded Sweat Records, Miami’s premiere independent record store. Yousuf can beat you at Scrabble and has a lifelong love of origami. 

Check out our interview with Nerd Nite speaker Ta-Shana Taylor and Nerd Nite Miami co-organizers Laura Chaibongsai and Melissa Blundell-Osorio.

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