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."