There’s no swift justice for the millions of detainees around the globe who spend years or even decades in police custody before their case goes to trial.

To get out, they need one of the “three Bs”: bribe, bail, or barrister. A majority are too poor to afford any one of the options, so they remain locked up and unable to support their families while waiting to plead their case. For them, justice comes slowly—if at all.

In Kenya, police detained a man named Kelvin two years ago for a crime he didn’t commit. He didn’t have money to bribe the officers, so he went straight to jail. His bail was set at 20,000 Kenyan schillings, a little under $200US. It was an unimaginable sum for a man who grew up as an orphan and spent his adult life picking garbage from a dump.

Skyrocketing crime rates in Nairobi have put pressure on police to make arrests and solve cases. Poor men like Kelvin become easy targets to pin crimes on, even with no legal justification. In 2013, an independent review of Kenya’s policing found that 64 percent of felony cases lacked sufficient evidence to charge detainees in the first place. In other words, nearly two out of every three cases failed meet the standard to charge them with the crime, much less find them guilty. Not surprisingly, when cases do finally come to trial, only 25 percent result in convictions.

Last month, Kelvin was finally released from prison with the help of International Justice Mission and a local congregation aptly named Deliverance Church. Members who had “adopted” Kelvin’s case and spent months praying for him raised enough money to pay his bail. He will now be free to spend the duration of his trial outside of ...

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