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Data on Mexican legal professions are scarce. While there are many widely available statistical
indicators about crime, victimization, and public opinion on the rule of law in Mexico, there have been few systematic, quantitative efforts to gauge the current levels of professional development, working conditions, and attitudes of the primary operators of the Mexican justice system, namely police, prosecutors, public defenders, and judges. Due in part to this lack of knowledge on legal professionals, Mexico’s criminal justice system remains an enormous “black box” whose internal weaknesses are often readily recognized but difficult to quantify.
In 2009, the Justice in Mexico Project, a multi-year research initiative coordinated by the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego (USD), launched a series of studies to evaluate the perceptions and professional development of actors in Mexico’s judicial sector. Working with an interdisciplinary, bi-national team of experts on Mexico’s justice sector, this series of studies —titled the Justiciabarómetro, or “Justice Barometer”— consists of surveys, interviews, and policy research to examine the strengths, challenges, and resource needs of Mexican law enforcement agencies and judicial institutions, and the justice sector in general.
The initial Justiciabarómetro study consisted of a major academic survey of municipal police in 2009, including 5,422 local law enforcement personnel in the six municipal governments that make up the Guadalajara metropolitan area. In 2010, a subsequent police study was conducted, involving more than 2,400 local police in the municipality of Ciudad Juárez, a city that has had a series of brutal homicides targeting women since the 1990s and severe levels of crime and violence since early 2008.