Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Criminal Justice


Lucia Trimbur

Committee Members

Rosemary Barberet

Jeremy R. Porter

Subject Categories

Criminology and Criminal Justice


Pretrial detention, cross-national, incarceration, development


To better understand global pretrial detention patterns, this study explores economic, political, and social factors associated with two measures of pretrial detention: the number of pretrial detainees as a rate of the general population, and the number of pretrial detainees as a proportion of the overall prison population. Through simple correlation analysis, stepwise regression, and moderation analyses, the study identifies factors which are most strongly associated with the two pretrial detention measures. The literature does not report any large-scale cross-national studies on pretrial detention. This study addresses this gap, focusing exclusively on pretrial detention using a large cross-national sample of almost 200 countries.

The economic, political, and social correlates of the two pretrial detention outcome measures are not the same as many of the correlates of general incarceration. This insight provides a useful pathway for constructing new theoretical approaches to understanding cross-national pretrial detention patterns.

Factors dealing with insecurity, development, and good governance are all significantly associated with the proportion of prisoners in pretrial detention. Countries with high levels of insecurity, and lacking development and good governance, tend to have a high proportion of prisoners in pretrial detention. This finding is important for national policy makers and international development assistance providers, especially in places where development intersects with modernization and democratic transitions – both of which are associated with pretrial detention practices.