Prison to the poorest and without an adequate defense

The first thing that the lawyer ex officio told July Raquel, after his arrest and transfer to a prison in Veracruz, was that he was silent at the hearing before the judge.He explained that he had not had time to study his file, that he had a long list of cases waiting and that to prevent things from getting worse, the ideal was silence.

"As I had never been in such a situation, and I was also dead of fear and shock, because I listened to him and I was silent," says July Raquel in an interview from the prison.

The judge decreed the link to the process for the accusation of homicide, although July could argue and show that when the crime occurred she was working with her dad in Cuautitlán Izcalli, State of Mexico.But he was silent and since that November 2020, he is in pretrial detention.

In Mexico, people who have sufficient resources to have access to a private lawyer or lawyer who provide timely attention when for a complaint, without an investigation in between and much less a judgment and sentence, end up in pretrial detention are a minority, end up in pretrial detention.

Up to 80% of the people who are in prison today in the country could not afford a private defense and, as in the case of July Raquel, they had to face at least part of the process with the ex officio.This, according to the data collected in the study ‘of the Professional Career Service in Public Defensoría in Mexico’, prepared by researchers Alberto Abad Suárez and Héctor Fix-Figuero.

And ex officio lawyers can carry up to 330 cases at the same time.

That there is no access to an adequate defense responds to two factors.First, to the majority of the population that is in prison are poor people, with conditions of economic vulnerability and low educational levels, according to data from the National Population Survey (ENPOL) of INEGI.

According to this survey, 71% of the population in Mexico that remains in prison without a sentence, is not a professional, or public official, but are dedicated to informal trade or artisanal work.

Before its imprisonment, 70% of that same population assured that they must work seven days a week, without rest, to stay.

INEGI data also show that 6 out of 10 people in prison failed.More than half of them are accused, now, having committed a robbery or having small amounts of drugs to sell it.

And if in addition to having this socioeconomic profile, the detained person is a woman, as in the case of July, then the chances of a detention derive almost automatic in a preventive prison multiply, as will be detailed in the following installment of thisreportage.

Therefore, most have no choice but to resort to an ex officio defense.And the conditions of the Public Defender System, which is saturated and exceeded, are the second factor that leads to the increasingly imprisoned people in pretrial detention do not have access to adequate defense.

More than 300 cases for each lawyer and lawyer

Cárcel a las personas más pobres y sin una defensa adecuada

Martín Flores, dad of July Raquel, as soon as he learned of his daughter's situation he traveled with the post of Mexico City to the Pacho Viejo prison.He immediately went to the ex officio lawyer to tell him that everything had to be a mistake, that on the day of the murder he had been working with his daughter and that there were other witnesses who accredited him.

“Look, I'm not going to be able to defend your daughter.Look for a private lawyer, ”he says was the answer he received.

Almost three months later, and only after borrowing, selling what he could and lookingI could declare.

That she could defend and deny her responsibility and participation in the homicide occurred nine months after being imprisoned in pretrial detention."The lawyer ex officio harmed me a lot," says July from jail."I feel he never wanted to defend me.Rather it seemed that I was against me ".

In Veracruz, where she is in prison, there are 42 lawyers and lawyers for about 7,700 active cases.Everyone has, on average, 183 simultaneous judgments to attend and follow up, according to official data.

And Veracruz is not the worst, according to information collected in 16 entities that met data on requests for public information.

In Jalisco, for example, a lawyer or lawyer can carry 336 simultaneous judgments;In Nayarit, the figure for a single defender is 279 cases;in Puebla, 272;or in Baja California, 171.

In contrast, in Querétaro there are 53 defenders and public defenders for 374 cases;an average of seven cases per person.

The figures also reflect that in none of the 16 entities that responded the applications significantly grew the number of defenders, although in 2020 the rate of people in prison grew to the highest rate of the last 15 years, and that inA single year added 14 thousand new people deprived of liberty, as we tell you in the first part of this report.

In fact, the number of public lawyers has remained the same in Veracruz —42, since 2019 - and in Guerrero - 57, since 2015—.

While the number of public defenders and defenders has decreased in states such as Yucatan - 81 in 2017 and 66 this year;Mexico City - 527 in 2017 to 439 this year;or Nuevo León —154 in 2015 against 149 this year—.

For Ángela Frías, criminal expert, the Public Defender System faces a serious structural crisis.Given the immense amount of accumulated cases, many lawyers and lawyers choose to apply “very passive defenses”, which consist of recommending the accused person not to declare, because they do not have the time to investigate and prepare a case that they just receivedhours before the initial audience, and adds to the immense row of pending cases.

"A private defender has two or three cases per month," says Frías."One public receives five or six ... in a single day".

As for the budget with which public defenders operate, of the seven entities that transparent this information, in no case was there an increase in resources.On the contrary, the budgets kept the same, and there were even cases such as Nuevo León that applied cuts: from 287 million in 2020 to 281 this year.

The report “Findings: 2020.Monitoring and evaluation of the Criminal Justice System in Mexico ”, from the Mexico Evalua organization, identified that the annual budget allocated for justice system operators just 2% touches public defenders: 3.9 billion a bag of 177 billion.

And something similar happens with the salaries of the ex officio lawyers.Of the thirteen states that fulfilled their transparency obligations and delivered the information to intersecta and political animal, there are entities such as Baja California where their net salary in 2015 was 20 thousand 420 pesos, and six years later it remains exactly the same.While in Puebla the salary was 20 thousand pesos in 2015 and now it is even minor, 19 thousand.

In addition, there are huge differences in what a public defender charges depending on the entity.In Guanajuato, 45 thousand 647 net pesos per month, and in Nayarit there are 6,221 pesos, almost seven times.

On this issue of salaries, the investigation 'The Professionto win the same.Or that only 20% of them and they have received some type of promotion or promotion;Only 36% have retirement or retirement support, and only 37% are senior.

The specialist Layla Gabriela Almaraz Olivares, points out that a public defender is, first of all, a human rights defender of all citizens, and hence the importance of having a much more robust public defender system derives.

“Preventive prison in people who have been victims of torture has terrible effects.That is why public defenders are key.When a person is arrested and even more when he is tortured and faces the punitive power of the State he needs an ally and those are public defenders.Beyond the functions that the law marks the defenders, by nature, human rights defenders, ”says Almaraz Olivarez, area director of the Technical Secretariat of Combating torture, cruel and inhuman treatment, of the Federal Institute of the OmbudsmanPublic (IFDP).

The criminal Angela Frías, on the other hand, states that an alternative could be to ask schools and private lawyers to have a much more active role in the defense of pro-fone cases, free of charge and as a service to the service to thesociety.

The researcher Alberto Abad proposes that the bars set percentages of this type of work for his lawyers and lawyers.“Hey, do you want to be a member of the bar?Very good, but you have to give 20% of your time to pro-bone cases.Until now, most bars don't work like this ”.

In addition, Alberto Abad's investigation shows that there is also administrative disorder in public defenders.For example, in two states, the public defender depends on the local judiciary;In four, they are decentralized public bodies;In five, they are dependencies of the local government;In eight are decentralized organizations, but sectorized in local governorships;And only in one case depend on the local legal counseling.

Declare yourself, an exit

Gabriela was accused of stealing 100 pesos.His ex officio lawyer suggested to declare himself guilty to make the process shorter and receive a minimum sentence.She says innocent, and wanted to review the video surveillance cameras to test it, but accepted the recommendation of her defender.

Many people like Gabriela, who cannot pay a defense and have been in prison for months, opt for the recommendation of abbreviated procedures, which has become an increasingly common exit for people who are in pretrial detention.

According to data from 21 states that delivered public information, from 2019 to date 161 thousand 90 cases were resolved, but only 15% were by trial.In the case of Gabriela, he chose to declare himself guilty and thus have an abbreviated procedure.

The study “Findings 2020: Monitoring and evaluation of the criminal system in Mexico” carried out by Mexico EvaluAccording to the federal justice delivery census.

"The increase in the use of the abbreviated procedure is striking, because without supervision and control mechanisms it can become an exit that encourages the manufacture of culprits," says Mexico's study evaluates.

For people who choose to fight for their innocence, the cost is very high: stay in prison for months or years, waiting for the resolution to be favorable.

The official data obtained by intersecta and political animal for this investigation reveal that the proportion of people who were acquitted in prison in 2019 and 2020 due to lack of evidence exceeds in all cases - robes, narcomenudeo, kidnappings and even homicides - to those who metWith a condemnation.At the federal level, 1 in 3 sentences issued in a trial are of total acquittal.

Prove that a crime was not committed is possible, but it implies years that you have to survive after bars, many times with a lawyer or lawyer who does not have enough time to follow the process, and with the challenges involved in the economic vulnerability of families.

"This situation not only destroys the life of the person who is imprisoned.It also destroys the life of others, of the whole family, ”laments Martín, father of July Raquel;that every night he sleeps thinking what other chambas he can do and his family to get the money enough that allows him to face the expenses of her daughter's preventive detention and fight to defend her innocence.