Socio-economic impact of pretrial detention

April 21, 2011 at 10:21 pm Leave a comment

  The title of a recent OSJI study “The Socio Economic Impact of Pretrial Detention” feature the family and friends of Vintanga Kalidze who was detained for five months in Malawi in 2010. His wife had to sell the most valuable family possession in order to visit him in prison. About 10 million people are detained every year across the globe. Almost 500 000 of them take place in the US. In Nigeria the average length of pretrial detention is 3.5 years.  Nearly all (97%) of the prisoners in Liberia are defendants awaiting trial.

There are many negative  public and private consequences of pretrial detention. At social level it undermines the rule of law, alleges the report. Those arrested usually have not enough means to retain counsel. Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights has been quoted “The poor need legal aid, not pressure to pay bribes. They need proof that everyone is equal before the law.”

The study finds that  “pretrial detention has a harmful—and completely avoidable—impact on individuals, families, communities, and States. That impact is most profound and most harmful for those who can least afford it. It wastes human potential, wrecks lives, and distorts government policy.” Furthermore the research asserts that most pretrial detention is unnecessary.  These arrests bring little benefits to the criminal justice system but the costs to the society and the detainees are enormous.  Cheaper and more effective alternatives are available – i.e. monitoring,  bail and social services.

Read The Socioeconomic Impact of Pretrial Detention here


Entry filed under: Access to Justice, Human Rights, Rule of Law.

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