Spain Table of Contents
Figure 18. Organization of Police Service, 1988
The transition from Franco's dictatorship to a system of parliamentary democracy was accompanied by a major effort to bring the forces of law and order and the justice system into harmony with the new political era. The police were stripped of most of their military characteristics. The Civil Guard, which maintained order in rural areas and in smaller communities, retained many of its military features, but both the civil Guard and the police were placed under civilian leadership. Once dedicated to repressing all evidence of opposition to the Franco regime, the police and the Civil Guard were expected to tolerate forms of conduct previously banned and to protect individual rights conferred by the 1978 Constitution and by subsequent legislation. Members of the Civil Guard continued to be implicated in cases of mistreatment and brutality in the campaign against Basque terrorism. The authorities had, however, prosecuted many guardsmen for such infractions, with the result that by 1988 fewer violations of legal norms were being recorded.
Reforms of the judicial system included appointments of judges by a body insulated from political pressures and increased budgets to enable courts to deal with a chronic backlog of criminal hearings. The penal code was being modernized to bring it into conformity with the new Constitution. Some progress had been made in ensuring that defendants had effective legal representation and that they received speedier trials. Nevertheless, antiquated procedures and the escalation of crime continued to generate huge delays in the administration of justice, with the result that as much as half of the prison population in 1986 consisted of accused persons still awaiting trial.
Data as of December 1988