Pretrial Services
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According to an ILANUD study, between 1978 and 1992, the percentage of inmates without a conviction in 15 Latin American countries was over 50% of the total prison population on average. In nine countries in the region, the average was as high as 70%. In practice, prior to the criminal procedure reforms that have been implemented in the majority of the countries of the region over the past few decades, pretrial detention was the general rule used for the situation of inmates across the region.

The criminal procedure reform movement sought to replace the region’s inquisitorial systems with adversarial procedure models. The procedure reforms have presented a new regulatory framework that recognizes the presumption of innocence and seeks to make the use of prison during the process an exceptional practice that is used solely to provide protection. In this context, the hearing was introduced as a methodology for making judicial decisions –including preliminary hearings to discuss whether or not to use pretrial detention- and regulations were passed on a broad range of protective measures. The goal was to decrease the number of inmates who had not been convicted or sentenced.

This area of work is focused on the progress made and challenges faced in this area and the need for discussion of preliminary hearings and the rationalization of protective measures. In the case of the latter, we focus on comparative experience with programs such as pretrial services.


  • To research and describe the pretrial services methodology as a space in which to evaluate the procedural risks that justify the use of protective measures and to supervise them when they are implemented.
  • To describe some of the challenges related to the use of protective measures in Latin America and key aspects for the implementation of pretrial services in the regional context.
  • To generate discussion through international experiences in this area in order to gather information that will provide insight into the form and circumstances that must be present in order to implement them in countries throughout the region.




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