High crime rates and widespread corruption pose a continued challenge to Guatemala. Sometimes police let minor offenders go free in exchange for bribes. Other times, suspects are simply sent to jail without a hearing. It can take months for a suspect to even see a judge. Thanks to a new 24-hour court, or “Juzgado de Turno,” officers are now required to bring anyone detained for a minor offense immediately to this new court. At any hour of the day or night, a judge decides whether the suspect should be free to go or enter the jail system. This is expected to reduce the number of people jailed without a hearing and make corruption within the police force less prevalent. It will also help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of Guatemala’s legal system. USAID helped the 24-hour courts come to fruition by negotiating an agreement between the four government bodies with a stake in the courts; by training judges, prosecutors and public defenders in oral arguments; and by remodeling the new hearing rooms.
Last updated: November 22, 2013