Does Anybody Go To Jail Around Here?

Not enough
BY: LAURAL N. HARDY

The numbers confirm what most of us already know: impunity in Mexico is about as bad as it can get.

An analysis called the Global Impunity Index (IGI) ranked Mexico at second from the tippy tip bottom on an international scale. It also found that a country’s wealth does not favorably impact its impunity index, nor does increasing police funding help matters, especially without fixing the judicial system. And Mexico’s judicial system is about as broken as the police system

Mexico ranks 2nd in the world for impunity for criminalsWith 75.7 points, Mexico races the Philippines, which has an index of  80, to the bottom of the heap.

 To determine a country’s level on the impunity index the study analyzed 14 indicators, including the number of police and judges per 100,000 inhabitants, the incidence of  killings and kidnappings, and the percentage of people incarcerated without being sentenced.

After analyzing and comparing data from 59 United Nations member countries, the IGI observed that those with the highest level of impunity are the Philippines, Mexico, Colombia, Russia and Turkey, which all have structural problems in their public safety and judicial systems. By contrast, the nations with the lowest IGI are Croatia at 27.5 points, Slovenia 28.2, the Czech Republic 34.8, Montenegro 34.9, and Bulgaria 37.5.

IGI data revealed that for each 100,000 inhabitants, Bulgaria has 57 judges, Slovenia 48, Croatia 45 and Montenegro 42, well above the global average of just 17 per 100,000. Mexico came in with a mere four judges per 100,000 people, and there was no judgement on how corrupt those few judges are. In terms of public safety, Mexico has 355 police officers per 100,000 residents, as compared to the global average of 332, a sure sign that quality counts, not quantity.

The study observes that Mexico’s strategy to improve security has focused on two actions: creating more and better police forces, such as the creation of the new Gendarmerie, and legislation which increases severe penalties for high-impact crimes.

Yet the measurements shown in the index indicate an overpopulation in Mexico’s penitentiary system is due to the judicial system not keeping up, and appropriately sentencing all of the incarcerated population. The study concludes that a more robust judicial branch has a greater impact on impunity than increasing the number of police officers.

The phenomenon of impunity casts doubt on Mexico’s ability to fulfill the right to a speedy and transparent judicial process. The IGI notes that the majority of investigations into suspected, detained, arrested or arraigned individuals are not conducted openly. It also highlights the fact that 46% of the detained population is awaiting sentencing, in some cases for years.

The IGI found that a country’s wealth, measured by its GDP, is not a determining factor in the level of impunity.

The report concluded by stating that “Mexico does not need to invest in more police, but in the processes which guarantee their effectiveness,” Translation: We don’t need more police, we need better police. Like nobody knew that.

It would also help if the district attorney’s office were cleaned up. It’s so corrupt, criminals routinely buy their way out of being prosecuted. And if they don’t have enough money to do that, they can often get lucky and are automatically released 48 hours after being arrested if nobody directly involved in the robbery shows up to file complicated and time consuming charges in Spanish. This is why Americans are so often picked on: The bad guys count on Gringos just wanting to go home after being robbed.