Criminal Justice Reform in Mexico:an Overview

David A. Shirk


This article examines the package of constitutional and legislative reforms approved in 2008 with the goal of improving the Mexican criminal justice system. These reforms included new criminal procedures (oral adversarial trials, alternative sentencing, and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms), stronger due process protections for the accused, police and prosecutorial reforms to strengthen public security, criminal investigations, and new measures to combat organized crime. The author explains the procedural and institutional changes involved in the reforms. He argues that, while there has been significant progress in several states, there are several challenges for judicial reform in Mexico over the short-term, medium-term, and longer term. These challenges include the need to better coordinate across branches of government to establish new regulations and statutes; the need to properly prepare a wide array of judicial sector personnel to implement the new system; the need to construct new physical infrastructure for live, video-recorded court proceedings; and the need to properly monitor and evaluate the performance of the new system.


Judicial reform; criminal justice; oral trials; police reform; criminal procedure; criminal investigations; organized crime; Mexico

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