Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tens of thousands of Mexican prisoners languish incarcerated for years, without formal sentencing

Guadalajara -
The Mexican civil association Asilegal reported this week that over 43% of incarcerated prisoners across the Republic are being held in custody without the benefit of trial or formal sentencing, under so called "preventive detention" statutes.

In 14 of the nation's 32 entities, more than 50% of the incarcerated have yet to be sentenced for any crime. Those states include Baja California Sur, Chihuahua, Durango, Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Aguascalientes, Michoacán, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tlaxcala, Tabasco and Quintana Roo.

On average, preventive detention prisoners in the states of Oaxaca, Guerrero y Chiapas remain in custody for more than 10 years before receiving a formal sentence.

Asilegal representatives noted last week, "The use of preventive detention is a direct assault on the constitutional presumption of innocence, guaranteed by Article 20 of the Great Charter, which provides for a maximum of two years of custody without formal imposition of sentence."

The organization also noted that both the formally sentenced and the unsentenced share tight prison quarters, exposing the latter - who are presumed innocent of any crime - to "extortion, violence, sexual assault, homicide and other offenses."

Asilegal claims that in Jalisco alone 17,918 persons are in state penal custody, 10,936 of whom have not been sentenced for the commission of any crime.

Reader note: Asilegal appears to have understated the legal requirements of Article 20. Subsection eight actually provides as follows: "[Accused persons] shall be tried within four months, if charged with an offense whose maximum penalty does not exceed two years' imprisonment; and within one year, if the maximum penalty is greater."

© MGR 2014. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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