The Pains of Pretrial Detention: Theory and Research on the Oft-Overlooked Experiences of Pretrial Jail Stays

Claudia N. Anderson, Joshua C. Cochran, Andrea N. Montes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


This chapter reviews theory and research on pretrial detention. In doing so, we argue that the heterogeneity inherent in the experiences people have in jails as a result of pretrial detention is important for understanding the collateral consequences of pretrial detention, but that these in-jail experiences, for people incarcerated pretrial in particular, have been largely overlooked relative to prison experiences. Future scholarship should more closely consider these experiences and their consequences for people and policy. We use the National Inmate Survey, 2011-2012 conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics to provide descriptive analyses that present a snapshot “profile” of individuals held pretrial in the United States and their experiences in jail. This empirical profile is informed by existing literature that theorizes about the harms of incarceration and perceptions of legitimacy, which allows for placing the experiences of individuals incarcerated pretrial in the context of that literature. Specifically, we present statistics regarding misconduct, contact with outside ties, victimization, restrictive housing, and procedural justice. We conclude with a discussion about the implications of our argument for theory and policy, and make recommendations for future research that seeks to advance knowledge and policy centered on jails and their usage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook on Pretrial Justice
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781000431827
ISBN (Print)9780367712181
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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