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Carlos J. Vilalta INTRODUCTION

A long time has passed in Mexico since the time of the Aztecs, when minors under 15 could be sentenced to death if found drunk or for having homosexual relations (Soto 2007). There are factual records in the Mendocino Code (1541) of harsh punishment of children between the ages of 7 and 10, such as being tied up naked for a whole day inhaling the fumes of burned peppers (Rodriguez 1987). Today, Mexico is a totally different place. In spite of the foreign stereotyping and its own problems and limitations, the Mexican criminal justice system, including juvenile justice, is a modern and progressive system, and above all, improving rapidly.

Several factors can explain the progress recently made in the juvenile criminal justice system. One main factor has been the legal reforms of the last 10 years. These reforms cannot be understood in a historical vacuum. For this reason, this chapter explains what the Mexican juvenile justice system is from a historical perspective. As such, most sections in this chapter provide a historical account of the topic in hand. But history is empirics in practice. For this reason, most sections contain data sources and references when possible. Criminal statistics is another major improvement in recent years. Thus, even though juvenile criminal and judicial data is still limited and far from what we would like it to be, sufficient statistical evidence is available to learn from the Mexican experience and to produce a satisfactory understanding of it.

This chapter provides a succinct historical and empirically based summary of the Mexican juvenile justice system. It summarizes the main aspects as it aims to serve as a comprehensive yet concise introduction to the facts and state of affairs of the Mexican juvenile justice system.

C.J. Vilalta (*)

Division of Public Administration, Center for Economic Research and Education (CIDE), Carretera Mexico-Toluca 3655, Alvaro Obregon, Mexico City CP 01210, Mexico e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

S.H. Decker, N. Marteache (eds.), International Handbook of Juvenile Justice, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-45090-2_6

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