Justicia en reforma : a diagnostic of Mexico's criminal procedure reform in early-implementer jurisdictions

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2011-05

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Abstract

Until recently, Mexico’s criminal court system systematically failed to observe the human rights of defendants, leading to widespread criticisms about the integrity of the system and the vulnerability of defendants to unconscionable judicial practices. Intending to remedy those deficiencies, several Mexican states have proceeded to transition from a semi-inquisitorial criminal procedure to an American-style adversarial one. Because of a 2008 reform to the national constitution, all Mexican states must adopt such criminal procedure reforms by 2016. In theory, these reforms should result in fewer overall cases, a reduced reliance on pre-trial detentions, and more dismissals of cases and acquittals. This thesis uses data collected by Mexico’s official statistical agency, INEGI, to test these hypotheses in judicial districts in four states: Oaxaca, Chihuahua, Morelos, and Zacatecas. While far fewer criminal cases are being brought in early-implementer districts that have transitioned to the new criminal procedures, the results on other statistical indicators are mixed. Nonetheless, the balance of evidence suggests that the reformed procedures are more likely to be fair to defendants and reduce overall wrongful convictions.

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