Friday 25 November 2011

Justice Indicators: Promising Tool for Management of Pretrial Detention

By Innocent Chukwuma, Executive Director, CLEEN 
at the National Conference on Criminal Prosecutions, Abuja, November 22-23, 2011

Definition of indicators

  • Indicators are measures of the performance of a system.
  • Justice indicators in particular are measures of the performance of the justice system as whole or of institutions and functions within the system. 

Purpose of Justice indicators

Indicators perform three broad functions:
  • Understanding problems and operations more deeply.
  • Focusing attention of staff and mobilizing the energy of justice system partners to the achievement of important goals.
  • Demonstration of achievement or progress to members of the public

Indicators Commonly used in in pretrial detention Management

Problems with population indicators

  • Percentage of prison inmates that is un-sentenced can be insensitive to significant changes in the numbers of detainees.
  • Second, neither the percentage nor the rate of pretrial detention based on the population on a single day focuses attention on the work of any particular government department or function.
  • The indicators neither strengthen nor reward existing systems of legal administration.
  • Third, international comparisons on these indicators tend to contradict one another, hiding as much as they reveal. 

Two Indicators of Pretrial Detention from selected countries in 2009 by the International Prison Studies

Contest of Pilot in Lagos

Percentage of Inmates leaving Ikoyi prisons by Selected time Intervals

Duration of Detention by Types of Release and Detention Space Consumption

Prototype Indicator: Average length of time in Filing legal Advice

Baseline Data from Ikoyi Prison, 2010

Reforms Implemented

  • Elimination of some of the multiple layers of review of draft opinion
  • Regular reviews of number of days it took to file legal advice in robbery and homicide cases whose files were forwarded by the police between May and August 2010.

Result Achieved after 4 month 

Lessons Learned

  • Measurements are important in Justice reform. If you don’t do it, somebody else will do it for you often at a high reputational cost. 
  • Access to reliable and easy to collect and analyze data rather than depend on outsiders and expensive consultants are critical to making progress.
  • Indicators should be developed around problems whose resolution can be affected with resources within the control of your agency.
  • Regular review of data to find out progress made and challenges encountered can be empowering. 

Challenges Encountered


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