Reforms to Criminal Justice
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General Description

Over the past two decades, nearly all of the countries in Latin America have undertaken efforts to reform their criminal justice systems using fairly homogeneous approaches. In general, these reforms have sought to overcome problems that traditionally have been identified with the use of archaic systems based on the inquisitorial model inherited from the Spanish colonial period. The approach has been to replace those systems with modern ones characterized as part of the adversarial system. These reform processes are now at various stages of development in the region. Some countries have years of experience with the use of these new models. Others are beginning to introduce or are in the early stages of legislative processing.

In order to support the implementation processes, since 2001 the Justice Studies Center of the Americas (JSCA) has worked with national institutions and representatives of civil society who are familiar with the reformed criminal justice systems in their countries to execute the Criminal Procedure Reform Monitoring Project in Latin America. The project consists of conducting research designed to produce information on the reform implementation processes and the performance of reformed criminal justice systems in order to determine the degree to which the expected changes have come about and what must be improved. The research has been conducted in stages, and the products of those stages are presented below.



  • To contribute to the strengthening of criminal justice reform processes, focusing attention on the issue of implementation;
  • To obtain and produce specific information on the performance of reformed criminal justice systems;
  • To determine the degree to which the anticipated changes have occurred and how much they have been frustrated as a product of the weaknesses of the implementation processes; and
  • To contribute to the enrichment of the legal culture of each of the countries and, in that way, reinforce the quality of criminal justice systems.




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