Prison Administration in Nuevo Leon, Mexico: Criminal Justice System Evolution and Reform Since 2000

Wayne J. Pitts, University of Memphis

ABSTRACT
Writer Mario Vargas Llosa once called the governance of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (known as the PRI) in Mexico as the "perfect dictatorship". Prior to 2000, the PRI held tight centralized control over all levels of government through a process of "trickle-down power assignments". The President's office appointed PRI candidates for state governors which in turn named PRI candidates for state legislatures. The president was also a key figure in the selection of deputies and senators, and therefore had substantial leverage over the Congress. During the 71 year reign of the PRI in Mexico, there was also evidence of manipulation of the judiciary. Political shifts in Mexico began to be realized in a candidate for governor. Constant political pressure from opposition candidates throughout the 1990s coupled by economic and social pressures from wide sectors of the population culminated in the election of President Vicente Fox Quesada of the National Action Party (known as the PAN), in 2000. President Fox vowed to overhaul the country's criminal justice system and to seek consensus among the country's various political parties. He also promised to attack government corruption and to reduce crime rates. This paper explores these reform initiatives and examines examples of how the Fox-led government has addressed criminal justice system deficiencies in Mexico. Preliminary results from research on prison administration in the state of Nuevo Leon will be presented.

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Updated 05/20/2006