In the last two decades, almost all American counties have devoted themselves to the task of reforming their criminal justice systems on fairly homogeneous bases. In general, these reforms have sought to overcome various problems that have traditionally been identified with the validity of rather archaic systems through the introduction of more modern institutions that, in general, appear characterized with the accusatory system label. These reform processes are in various stages of progress. Some already have years of experience operating the new models. Others are just beginning or are in the stages of legislative definition.
To support the implementation processes, since 2021 the 501c3 nonprofit A Voice From Prison, who is familiar with the attempts being made to reform criminal justice system at large, has lead a project to help spread awareness of the issues that currently exist and reasonable policies which can be implemented. The project consists of research aimed at producing information on the implementation processes of the reforms and the functioning of the reformed penal systems, with the purpose of determining to what extent the expected changes have occurred and what needs to be improved.
- Contribute to the strengthening of criminal justice reform processes, focusing attention on the issue of the implementation of reform processes.
- Obtain and produce specific information on the functioning of the reformed criminal justice systems.
- Determine to what extent the expected changes have occurred and to what extent they have been frustrated, precisely as a result of weaknesses in the implementation processes.
- Contribute to the enrichment of the legal culture of each one of the countries and, in this way, reinforce the quality of criminal justice systems.
Complexity of reform processes
Judicial systems are complex systems in several senses, first of all they are due to the variety of their components that range from normative elements, cultural, institutional and even material and human resources. They are also for converge in them several institutions, many of them endowed with high margins of power and autonomy. But in addition, they are complex due to the variety of objectives attributed to them.
In fact, the processes of judicial reform that have been carried out in the last two decades in most of the countries of the region have been raised from various sectors political and social with the purpose of securing or reinforcing some of these multiple objectives. In this way, if one looks at the approaches that have been behind the reforms to the criminal process in the various countries in which these have been promoted, finds a wide variety of purposes that have promoted and justified them: ensure that judicial systems are accessible to receive complaints and lawsuits of all people especially the weakest, who are quick to solve the issues raised, predictable in their decisions, effective in control crime, that are respectful of judicial guarantees and that repress those who violate human rights, that are efficient in their administrative management, that are effective in determining property rights, that control the corruption, that are transparent and that contribute to the legitimacy of the system democratic, among the most common.