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Excessive and Arbitrary

Every year nearly 15 million people around the world end up in prison cells and detention centers awaiting trial. Many will spend months or even years behind bars, without ever seeing a judge.

We support programs that enable those who pose no threat to be released while awaiting trial. We are backing expanded legal aid services to provide the poor with proper access to lawyers. And we are documenting the costs of the excessive use of pretrial detention—not only for individuals, families, and communities, but for criminal justice systems as a whole.

Access to Pretrial Justice

Open Society Voices

How Paralegals Delivered Access to Justice in the Jails of Sierra Leone

March 17, 2015 | by Marina Ilminska, Zaza Namoradze | 1 comment

Timap for Justice sent community-based paralegals into police stations in Sierra Leone. The result? Around half the people they helped were released on bail; more than a quarter saw charges dropped altogether.

Case Watch: European Court Strengthens Anti-Torture Safeguards

October 7, 2014 | by Marion Isobel

A ruling on Spain’s use of incommunicado detention for terrorism suspects calls for safeguards to ensure that suspects are protected from the risk of torture.

Clearing a Path to Justice in Nigeria

September 29, 2014 | by Chuck Leung | 1 comment

In Nigeria, nearly 70 percent of prisoners have not been convicted; detainees spend an average of over three years awaiting trial. Photographer Benedicte Kurzen discusses attempts to address this vast waste of human life.