Appendix:
Statistics of Crime
A Note on the General and Particular Biases of Criminal Statistics
Mexican statistics of criminality present conceptual and methodological prob-
lems. In 1907, Carlos Roumagnac declared that Mexican crime statistics were
flawed and were only useful as an index of judicial activity. Other criminologists
agreed with
him.1
Historians generally have criticized crime statistics for several
reasons, the most important being: (1) victims of crime do not always approach
the authorities, because the authorities do not always apprehend suspects and
because suspects are not always guilty; (2) statistics usually reflect the interest
of the authorities and the public for certain types of crimes; (3) statistics offer
diverse results according to the institution that compiled
them.2
In the case of Mexico, institutional instability must be added to all of these
problems. The executive power, the judiciary, and the police forces of Mexico
City often conflicted in their views and strategies concerning crime. Thus, the
count of crimes from judiciary sources is much lower than the one produced
by the police, which detained many drunkards and prostitutes in the streets and
kept them in jail overnight. ‘‘Administrative’’ procedures of this kind were also
used against minor
thefts.3
All the statistical series available until the 1930s come
from sporadic efforts to have them published, instead of routine record keeping.
Authorities did not hesitate to change the criteria for quantification or to stop
publication altogether. For example, the public prosecutor of the Federal Dis-
trict appointed in 1902, Luis López Masse, left his mark in the judicial statistics
by dropping the series that tracked
arrests.4
The Revolution suspended the con-
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