The problem of remand

Not these problems, of remand prisoners not being treated as they should be. That\’s bad, but not my point.

I do know why remand exists: flight or witness nobbling possibilities.

But the end result is, and always will be, that some who are subsequently found not guilty end up serving jail sentences. The process itself becomes the punishment.

No I don\’t mean those sentenced to time served. I mean those found not guilty: the justification for them to have to serve a sentence is what?

I don\’t know anything about the details but I would suspsect that those cleared at trial are let out with a \”Sorry but that\’s the way it goes\” and that\’s an end to it.

Which, if true, would strike me as the system not having enough skin in the game. Who, if anyone, loses out if too many go on to remand? Who compensates those who serve remand time for having been locked up without actually having been guilty of anything?

It can be substantial amounts of time too: months certainly are possible. It doesn\’t take all that long for a modern life to fall apart if you\’re not able to take part in it. Mortgages, rents, jobs, all disappear pretty quickly.

As I say, I don\’t actually know what does happen and would love to know (no, not for any personal reasons, they haven\’t found out the E factory in the basement of 8 Downing Street yet). Who, if anyone, coughs up for what those found innocent after being on remand lose?

And if it\’s no one, then shouldn\’t someone?

8 thoughts on “The problem of remand”

  1. I suspect almost all prisoners on remand will have already done time previously. So, in the event of acquittal, it’s in effect a punishment for having a criminal record.

  2. I believe anyone found subsequently ‘not guilty’ has an excellent case for false arrest and a modicum of other things that would have their lawyer coming down his leg for joy.


    “There is generally no compensation for people who have served time on remand, however long they may have been inside for. The only cases where this can happen are where the police have acted improperly. A remand prisoner that leaves prison or court having been found not guilty is not entitled to any support from the probation service or to the £46 discharge grant. It seems particularly unfair that people who have been in prison, without being convicted cannot access the (very limited) support that a convicted prisoner gets on release. The difficulties people experience on leaving prison can be the same whether convicted or not.”

  4. The sixth amendment to the US Continuation includes a defendant’s right to a speedy trial. Failure by the state leads to dismissal of the charge or overturning of the conviction. Washington state allows only 60 days where detained and 90 days otherwise, as the default position. Skin in the game?

  5. I would’ve thought in this day and age it would be easier for remand prisoners to be released with a curfew and electronic tagging to ensure compliance, that way they can still keep their lives together while awaiting trial.

    Slight increase in the risk of witness nobbling, but if our gun control wasn’t so ridiculous, we’d be able to defend ourselves easier and it would be less of an issue – but that’s a different point.

  6. Many or most people on remand are there because a judge has concluded that they won’t stick to their bail conditions or turn up to court as required, or both. Many such judgments are well-founded, others less so. But what’s the alternative? Compensation is indeed the only one I can think of (in fact its not really even an alternative), but it would lead to some pretty distasteful outcomes. It would also be ferociously expensive and may even incentivise getting arrested. I’m not unsympathetic to the problem identified, but it raises real difficulties. Perhaps the better answer is that trials should not take so long to come to court.

  7. Who coughs up if your house burns down?

    If someone was negligent or it was deliberate, the person responsible can be sued. But if it’s just bad luck, and not anyone’s fault…?

    “Skin in the game” doesn’t really apply when it’s taxpayers money.

    Can you get insurance, do you think? Then at least the insurance company lawyers would be on your side for a quick resolution…

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