Kersty McCourt


The excessive use of pretrial detention leads to overcrowded environments where unconvicted detainees are at risk of contracting disease, writes Kersty McCourt. But as disease outbreaks quickly spread to the general public, pretrial detention is not just a human rights problem but also a looming public health crisis.


The pretrial stage of the criminal justice process is particularly vulnerable to corrupt practices, which hit the poor and disenfranchised hardest, says Kersty McCourt.


Torture is common in prisons around the world, but prisoners in pretrial detention face the most risk, since this is when interrogations take place and confessions are sought. Systemic factors such as insufficient legal resources and the lack of police complaint mechanisms contribute to the use of torture while prisoners await trial. Kersty McCourt recommends police forces make less use of pretrial detention, allow prisoners to access medical services and governments develop torture more


The excessive and arbitrary use of pretrial detention critically undermines socioeconomic development and is especially harmful to the poor, argues Kersty McCourt. Pretrial detention disproportionately affects individuals and families living in poverty: they are more likely to come into conflict with the criminal justice system, more likely to be detained awaiting trial and less able to make bail or pay bribes for their release, McCourt stresses. For individuals, the excessive use of more