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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

Volunteer Lawyers Give New Direction to Nigerian Legal Aid Initiative

February 13, 2019 | Stanley Ibe

In the town of Ikorodu, local lawyers are delivering free legal aid to detainees within 48 hours of arrest and joining an effort to steer people charged with nonviolent crimes away from unnecessary detention.

Nigeria’s Legal Aid Lawyers Win Police Recognition

September 28, 2017 | Stanley Ibe

A legal aid scheme that targets Nigeria’s excessive use of pretrial detention is primed to expand across the country.

In the EU, One in Five People in Prison Haven’t Yet Been Found Guilty of Any Crime

September 23, 2016 | Alex Mik

Why are courts using pretrial detention as a first resort rather than a last one?