Mexican justice: ayuda, por favor!

Everyone knows about the river of blood – criminals’, bystanders’, and good guys’ – flowing in Mexican streets as the country tries to get on top of its drug trafficking problem and the corruption of police and military it has engendered.  What’s less well known is the pervasive inability of the criminal justice system to protect citizens from ordinary crime by distinguishing real perps from victims of police setups and frames, a situation that probably has a fair amount to do with the drug war’s gruesome persistence.

Two of our students, Roberto Hernandez and Layda Negrete, have kicked this latter hornets’ nest with amazing results, making a documentary about one murder investigation and trial that is changing the world south of the border, and maybe elsewhere.  But the system to which police and trial judges have accommodated themselves over decades isn’t going down without a fight. After having given false testimony against  defendant Toño, and recanted it in a second trial that was only possible because the defense lawyer in the first had forged his license papers, the sole witness has decided that he would prefer his humiliation not be made public, and a judge in Mexico has enjoined showing the movie.  Of course it’s unthinkable that the cops and prosecutors stood him up for this charade.

These Abogados Con Cámaras could use some help (no good deed goes unpunished: all the profits from the theatrical distribution are being contributed to a criminal justice NGO) in cash, and in print.  Now it’s not just a justice issue, but also a free speech issue; censorship and corruption hiding behind a ludicrous privacy figleaf.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

3 thoughts on “Mexican justice: ayuda, por favor!”

  1. Injustice in Mexico has its foundation in the longstanding extreme inequality of wealth and power, the kletopcracy, which left 40 extended families owning pretty much everything, and which a series of revolutions have proven impotent to remedy. Everything else follows that, unfortunately.

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