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The Political Economy of Pre-trial Detention

By: Pilar Domingo, Lisa Denney

On any given day, over 3 million people are held in pre-trial detention (PTD).  We start from the position that excessive and/or arbitrary PTD is the ‘problem’ to be addressed, with an intention to reduce its incidence. PTD is a relatively discrete justice issue that is clearly identifiable and can be addressed before escalation, presenting an important opportunity for policymakers (from ministries and donor agencies) to engage in reform.

The objective of this paper is to develop an analytical framework that draws on political economy analysis (PEA) that can contribute to identifying the drivers of PTD. This analytical framework is useful when applied at the country level to the different stages of the criminal justice system – from the point of arrest to the point at which the case is resolved in a court of law. Applying PEA to each stage of the criminal justice chain enables the disaggregation of the structural features and wider socio-political and socio-cultural terrain, relevant institutional factors (formal and informal), relevant actors and their interests/incentives – and how they interact, in order to identify opportunities for influencing these to change.

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Uploaded on: Dec 04, 2013
Last Updated: Dec 09, 2015
Year Published: 2013
Co-Authors: Pilar Domingo, Lisa Denney
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