Impact Evaluation of USAID Haiti PROJUSTICE Program Pretrial Detention Component

We find that legal assistance increased the proportion of detainees who were freed nine months after the start of the impact evaluation period. As such, legal assistance does assist in reducing the duration that cases remain in illegal pretrial detention. However, legal assistance can only reduce the prevalence of PTD under certain conditions. Given the relatively modest effect sizes, legal assistance can only reduce the prevalence of prolonged PTD if reductions in the duration of PTD counterbalance the number of individuals being arrested and detained. To this extent, it is essential to provide a sufficient-sized unit of legal assistants such that all detainees can be represented. Despite the modest effect sizes, we estimate that this USAID-funded legal assistance provided substantial financial benefits to the Government of Haiti as imprisonment is quite costly. Further analyses of the barriers to providing the treatment (legal assistance) to some of those assigned to receive it provides descriptive evidence of some characteristics of the Haitian criminal justices system as well as the barriers to reducing the incidence and prevalence of PTD.