Presumed Guilty

A film by Roberto Hernández and Layda Negrete
PBS Premiere: July 27, 2010Check the broadcast schedule »

Links and Books


Presumed Guilty
The filmmakers' website for Presumed Guilty contains additional content about the film, a list of upcoming screenings and a petition you can sign to stop the presumption of guilt in Mexico.

The Wall Street Journal: "Presumption of Guilt"
This article chronicles the story of Antonio Zuñiga's arrest, the making of Presumed Guilty and Antonio's release. It also takes a wider look at the current criminal justice system in Mexico. A brief Q&A with filmmaker Geoffrey Smith is included on the page. (October 17, 2009)


Mexican Criminal Justice System

Council on Hemispheric Affairs: "The Wretched Plight of Mexico's Crippled Prison System"
An extensive report from the nonprofit research organization Council on Hemispheric Affairs draws attention to Mexico's prison crisis and the increasing abuse of power and corruption among Mexican police officers. Providing an overview of issues such as distrust of the police, prison overpopulation, prison conditions, mistreatment of prisoners and more, the report finally calls for reform to the penal system. (May 1, 2006)

Amnesty International: "Mexico: Injustice and Impunity: Mexico's Flawed Criminal Justice System"
A report from the international nonprofit organization, based on interviews with representatives of the government, prosecutors, defense lawyers, victims of human rights abuses and others, exposes a myriad of problems with the criminal justice system in Mexico. The report's detailed case studies highlight different aspects of the flawed system, and a list of recommendations to the Mexican government for reforming the system is provided at the end of the report. (2007)

Justice in Mexico Project
A research project of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego, the Justice in Mexico Project focuses on justice and the rule of law in Mexico. The website for the project provides many resources about the topic in English and Spanish, including working papers, links to databases about Mexican crime statistics and more.

Human Rights First: "Mexico Policing Project"
International nonprofit organization Human Rights First aims to improve the criminal justice system in Mexico. Their reports on Mexico provide background information on crime and policing in Mexico, highlight cases of misconduct and brutality and push for more accountability.

TIME: "Think California's Prisons are a Problem? Look at Mexico's"
Journalist Ioan Grillo exposes the challenges inside Mexico's prisons and highlights the growing strains in the penitentiary system, which is being flooded by new inmates locked up in Mexican President Felipe Calderon's war on drug cartels. (August 14, 2009)

The New York Times: "Mexican Prosecutors Train in U.S. for Changes in Their Legal System"
Mexico is gradually abandoning its centuries-old Napoleonic system of closed-door, written inquisitions. For the first time, defendants will be presumed innocent until proved guilty and courtroom doors will be thrown open to the public for oral trials. (April 24, 2009)

Los Angeles Times: "Judicial Overhaul in Mexico OKd"
Mexico's senate approved legislation that overhauls criminal trials. The legislation will phase out Mexico's current criminal justice procedures over eight years and enact new, U.S.-style public trials. (March 7, 2008)

Reforming the Administration of Justice in Mexico. (South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007)
Editors Wayne A. Cornelius and David A. Shirk explore the status and potential for reform in the Mexican judicial system.

Police and Public Security in Mexico. (San Diego, CA: University Readers, 2009)
This compilation, edited by Robert A. Donnelly and David A. Shirk, provides an assessment of Mexico's principal domestic security challenges. It includes articles by Guillermo Zepeda Lecuona ("Mexican Police and the Criminal Justice System") and María Eugenia Suárez de Garay ("Mexican Law Enforcement Culture: Testimonies from Police Behind Bars").

Criminal Justice

The Innocence Project
A policy and lobbying organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people, the Innocence Project encourages website visitors to browse the profiles of those who had been convicted and then exonerated, understand why there are wrongful convictions and take action to prevent wrongful convictions in the future. "Criminal Justice"
An online hub for social change, encourages visitors to take action on a number of issues, including criminal justice-related issues. The website provides updates on prison and criminal justice news, links to petitions and other action steps and advocates for reform of the American criminal justice system.

The Crime Report
A non-partisan news gathering site, the Crime Reporter is the result of a collaboration of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice, a think tank, and Criminal Justice Journalists, a journalism organization. Website visitors can read the latest crime and justice news from around America, find resources about topics such as court reform, sentencing and more and explore crime and justice through analysis and commentary.

The Sentencing Project
A research and advocacy organization, the Sentencing Project promotes reform in sentencing laws and practice and advocates for alternatives to incarceration. Learn about sentencing policy, the racial disparity in incarcerations and more on the organization's website.

Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and Other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted. (New York, NY: Doubleday, 2000)
Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld run the Innocence Project, which seeks to exonerate the wrongly convicted through DNA evidence. This book, written by Scheck and Neufeld along with journalist Jim Dwyer, takes a look at ten of the cases where the Innocence Project has exonerated the wrongfully convicted.

Surviving Justice: America's Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated. (New York, NY: McSweeney's, 2005)
This compilation of stories about wrongfully convicted Americans, edited by Dave Eggers and Lola Vollens, illustrates the alarming number of innocent Americans currently behind bars.



NewsHour: "Mexico's War with Drug Cartels Claim More Lives"
Mexican President Felipe Calderon appealed to the Mexican people for help as yet another round of drug gang violence erupted in Mexico. Ray Suarez has an update on the volatile situation along the border. (June 16, 2010)

NewsHour: "Turf Battles in Mexican City Prompt Policing Changes"
Continued drug-related violence in the troubled Mexican border town of Juarez caused the Mexican government to make a change: replacing the army with a federal police force. (April 9, 2010)

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: "Exonerated Prisoners"
There are more than two million people serving hard time in America's state and federal prisons. However, some of the incarcerated -- how many, no one really knows for sure -- shouldn't be behind bars. They are innocent people wrongfully convicted and sent to prison for crimes they did not commit. (July 27, 2007)

Bill Moyers Journal: "Jerry Miller and the Innocence Project"
Jerry Miller, recently exonerated after 24 years in prison by DNA evidence, discusses how he remained positive amidst the most negative of circumstances. (May 4, 2007)

Frontline: "Burden of Innocence"
They serve years in prison for crimes they didn't commit. Now they struggle to resurrect their lives, the vast majority denied compensation or help from the states that wrongfully imprisoned them. Frontline profiles five men who were wrongfully imprisoned. (May 1, 2003)

Wide Angle: "Cause for Murder: Corruption in Mexico"
Recently Mexico was startled by the murders of two young women lawyers, one from the political right and the other from the left. Both had fought to support human rights and legitimate protest, and to destroy the official and institutional corruption that has plagued Mexico for years -- a system of bribes, debts and favors that has prevented the world's tenth-largest country from fulfilling its political and economic potential. The election of President Vicente Fox in 2000 ended more than 70 years of single-party rule. This film examines the hopes that a new dawn has come in Mexico's history, and the fear that graft and corruption are immovable. (September 5, 2002)


Tell me More: "Mayhem in Mexico: Official Struggle to Curb Violence"
Violence in Mexico is on the rise, as the battle with Mexico's drug war continues. President Felipe Calderon is using the army and federal police to fight narcotics traffickers, but more and more, innocent bystanders seem to be caught up in the conflict. Malcolm Beith, the Mexico section editor of The News, an English language newspaper in Mexico, discusses the dire situation just across the U.S. border. (October 2, 2008)

"DNA, Exoneration and Compensation: A Discussion
Larry Peterson spent nearly 18 years in prison for the 1987 murder and rape of Jacqueline Harrison, a young mother of two, before DNA evidence set him free. His case illustrates the difficulties that convicted criminals face in getting authorities to approve retesting of evidence that may be years or even decades old. The legal battle does not end with exoneration: Peterson is now suing the state of New Jersey for compensation for wrongful imprisonment. Robert Siegel discusses exoneration and compensation with criminal justice experts. (June 13, 2007)