Justice Initiatives: Pretrial Detention

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Justice Initiatives: Pretrial Detention Download the complete publication in English. 647.69 Kb, PDF Download
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Justice Initiatives: Detención preventiva Download the complete publication in Spanish. 830.9 Kb, PDF Download
Spring 2008

Justice Initiatives: Pretrial Detention examines the global costs of the practice, as well as efforts to reduce its use. The excessive and irrational use of pretrial detention wastes public resources, undermines the rule of law, disrupts families and communities, and endangers public health. By definition, pretrial detention only affects people who have not yet been judged and are presumed innocent.

In 2006, an estimated 7.4 million people around the world were held in pretrial detention, yet it remains an overlooked area of criminal justice. Abuses are common: conditions are often worse for pretrial detainees than for sentenced prisoners and torture more widespread. Fortunately, innovative approaches to reform, documented in the publication, are beginning to emerge.

Justice Initiatives: Pretrial Detention includes:

  • An essay on the international standards and treaties governing the use of pretrial detention, by Mark Shaw of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
  • An overview of pretrial detention reform efforts and the elements that can help them succeed, by Todd Foglesong of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
  • An assessment of the global costs—in both human and financial terms—of pretrial detention, by Martin Schönteich of the Justice Initiative.
  • First-person accounts from the frontlines of reform efforts around the world, including legislative changes in Chile; prison visits in India; paralegal-led interventions in Malawi; deployment of legal aid lawyers to police stations in Nigeria; and accounts from Latvia, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, and the United States.
  • An essay on the need for reformers to be both data-driven and politically savvy, by the Justice Initiative's acting executive director, Robert O. Varenik.

It is available in both English and Spanish.


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