Crime continues to undermine the rule of law and democracy in Latin America. The incidence and severity of crime reduce the community’s trust in police and in government, and many attempts to address the crime problem have stalled. Directly empowering citizens has, however, been a promising avenue for change. Toward a Society under Law focuses on community policing and on police reform.

The first part of the book covers general issues and themes, with chapters on the impact of community policing, the role of advocacy networks, urban social policies and crime, and the cost of crime. The second part includes case studies of police reform, community policing, Argentina’s national plan for crime prevention, and crime in Mexico City. Several contributions offer comparative studies of several countries. The contributors include political scientists and sociologists from Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Toward a Society under Law is a product of an ongoing project of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. It follows an earlier book, Crime and Violence in Latin America: Citizen Security, Democracy, and the State, edited by Hugo Frühling and Joseph S. Tulchin, with Heather A. Golding, which was published in 2003.

Joseph S. Tulchin is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, where he directed the Latin American Program from 1989 to 2006. Meg Ruthenburg is a writer and translator living in Ann Arbor, Michigan; she was program associate at the Latin American Program from 2002 to 2005.


List of Tables and Figures

1. Introduction: Toward a Society Under Law
Joseph S. Tulchin and Meg Ruthenburg

Part I. Issues and Themes
2. The Impact of Community Policing and Police Reform in Latin America
Hugo Frühling
3. Advocacy Networks and Police Reform: Assessing Their Impact
Claudio Fuentes
4. Crime and Social Policies in Latin American Urban Centers
Claudio C. Beato F.
5. Measuring the Costs of Crime and Violence as an Input to Public Policy: Evidence from Mexico City
Graciela Teruel, Renata Villoro, Andrew Morrison, and James Hammit

Part II. Case Studies
6. Paths toward Police and Judicial Reform in Latin America
Paulo de Mesquita Neto
7. Police Reform in Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, and Chile
Heather H. Ward
8. Citizen Participation and Public Security in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile: Lessons from an Initial Experience
Catalina Smulovitz
9. Citizen Security Policy in Argentina: The National Crime Prevention Plan
Alberto Föhrig, Julia S. Pomares, and Cecilia Gortari
10. Civilian Oversight of Security in Peru: The Testimony of a Participant
Carlos Basombrío
11. Elements for a Study of Crime in Mexico City
Arturo Alvarado Mendoza

Part III. Conclusions and Recommendations
12. Conclusion: Security and the Rule of Law in a Democratic Society
Joseph S. Tulchin and Meg Ruthenburg


“By focusing on citizen-police relations, and the specific attempts to improve them, this book brings out one of the most important issues for citizen security in democracy today.”—Mark Ungar, City University of New York

“An impressive collection of essays… an indispensable tool for scholars and practitioners.”—Ruth Stanley, Journal of Latin American Studies