04/28/14 — Construction on Mexico’s first Federal Criminal Justice Center (Centro de Justicia Penal Federal) is officially underway in Durango. On April 25, Durango Governor Jorge Herrera Caldera led the ceremony inaugurating the building’s construction, alongside Daniel Francisco Cabeza de Vaca Hernández, president of the Federal Judicial Council (consejo de la Judicatura Federal), and María de los Ángeles Fromow Rangel, the New Criminal Justice System’s (Nuevo Sistema de Justicia Penal, NSJP) technical secretary and representative for Interior Minister Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, among others. The centers are intended to help the country satisfy the increasing judicial demands being placed on the judiciary under the new adversarial criminal justice system.
The new center is the first of 44 such buildings that will be built in Mexico by mid-2016 to coincide with the launching of the 2008 constitutionally mandated NSJP. One center will be built in each of Mexico’s 32 judicial circuits, with some receiving multiple depending on the circuit and its demands. Construction for Durango’s building—which will stand five stories tall, span 15,000 square feet, and house 8,000 offices and six courtrooms—is slated to cost an estimated $250 million pesos ($19 million USD).
Advocates of the new criminal justice system applauded the construction of the Criminal Justice Center. Technical Secretary María de los Ángeles Fromow said that the center will be “one of the spaces where society will learn the new judicial system, and where citizens will benefit from oral, transparent, and quicker trials.” Meanwhile Governor Herrera Caldera recognized that with the construction of the first federal center, the state of Durango “will serve as a clear example of this transformation that [all Mexicans] are a part of.” Overall, the center’s initiation marks the second significant step the federal government has taken towards implementing the NSJP on a national level, the first of which was the government’s approval of the new National Penal Procedures Code (Código Nacional de Procedimientos Penales) in February 2014. The new code seeks to establish uniformity in the application of criminal law across Mexico’s 31 states and the Federal District (Distrito Federal, DF).