Author (Your Name)

Emily BoyceFollow

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Government Dept.


Lindsay Mayka

Second Advisor

Ben Fallaw


In this project, I investigate why police impunity has persisted in Mexico, and why the application of justice, when it does occur, happens unequally. Mexico has undergone a democratic transition with a specific focus on increasing accountability in the judiciary. These persistent trends of police impunity and unequal application of justice are especially puzzling in the face of these recent shifts. Existing literature argues that the institutional changes that occur as a result of democratization should yield changes that further the individual rights of citizens. A majority of the scholarly work regarding police impunity and justice in Mexico focuses on larger trends, and does not account for the gaps in which citizen rights are not protected. Additionally, there is a gap in the literature regarding the why outcomes for police accountability, in the few cases in which they occur, vary widely.

I argue that the application of justice depends on the involvement of an NGO, the creation of a strong and salient framing by the NGO, and the ability of the framing to work within gaps in the political opportunity structure. I examine the three cases of the women of Atenco, Jacinta Francisco Marcial, and Alberta Alcántara and Teresa González. These cases involve women who were wrongfully arrested and abused by police. Despite the initial similarities in these cases, the outcomes and the application of justice vary widely. My analysis of these cases is supported by two weeks of fieldwork I completed in Mexico City during January 2016, as well as research on existing literature, conversations with representatives from NGOs, and news articles and pictures.


Civil Society Organization, Framing, NGOs, Alternative Pathways to Justice