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One In Three Prisoners Around The World Is Being Held In Pre-Trial Detention

Some may never see trial at all.

Posted on September 12, 2014, at 4:59 p.m. ET

What happens after someone is arrested? Chances are high in much of the world that the person will be held in pre-trial detention — and perhaps never face trial at all, according to a new report released Sept. 10 by the Open Society Foundations.

An estimated 3.3 million people are being held in pre-trial detention around the world — that's one in every three prisoners, the report, titled Presumption of Guilt, found.

Pre-trial detainees make up over 40% of the total prison population in Central and South America, over 50% in Central and West Africa, and over 65% in South Asia. In some countries, the proportions are even higher.

That's a lot of time lost — with some significant consequences.

Most people caught in pre-trial detention are male, young, and poor. They can't help to support their families while caught in legal limbo.

The Open Society Foundations, a network that provides grants to support democracy and human rights initiatives, spent several years documenting the magnitude of pre-trial detention. They looked at the practice's causes and prevalence — and also on its effect on development worldwide.

"A dysfunctional justice system puts poor people behind bars," Jonathan Birchall

of the Open Society Justice Initiative told BuzzFeed News. "It's a good example of how getting basic access to justice to ordinary people can help to reduce a whole host of social, economic and financial problems."

Watch the Open Society Foundations' video here:

View this video on YouTube

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