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The Use of Remand in Scotland and Some Speculative Ideas for Change Sarah Armstrong
European Comparisons Sources: CoE, SPACE I 2007 (2006 survey); ICPS World Prison Brief (2008)
Use of remand - ADP • In 2007/08 the remand population amounted to 21% of the overall prison population. • Less than twenty years ago, it accounted for 15% of the overall prison population.
The five-year average remand ADP between 1989 and 1993 was: 16% • The five-year average remand ADP between 2004 and 2008 was: 20%
Use of Remand – Admissions • In 2007/08, more people were admitted to prison to await a trial or final sentence (22,500) than to serve a sentence (18,227). • This pattern has emerged over the past five years. Prior to 2003/04, the number of people being admitted to serve a sentence had been greater than those admitted on remand.
Average time served (2007) • on Remand = 25 days • Sentenced to < 6 months = 24 days
Scotland’s use of prison is characterised by: • Frequent use of very short sentences; • Frequent use of remand; • Increasing role of CJS activities in prison growth (parole recalls, bail breaches, community sanction failure); • Increasing average time served on longer sentences
What can prison admissions tell us? If we want to assess the health of a business, say Amazon.com, we’d want to know: • How many books they have in their warehouses at the moment, but also, • Their annual turnover – how many books do they buy and sell each year?
Scotland moves a larger part of its population through its prisons than any other country in Europe.
Admissions per 100,000 inhabitants Source: CoE SPACE I 2007 (2006 survey)
Is frequent use of prison for remand and very short sentences bad? Yes, it is.
Bad for prisoners • Isolation and inactivity: Remand prisoners in Aberdeen were kept locked in dormitories for 22 hours per day; young remand prisoners in Polmont were kept locked in cells 23 hours per day (AS) • Crowding: housing for short-term and remand prisoners is 140% over capacity; housing for LT prisoners is less crowded (AS)
Very bad for prisoners • Mental health: Scottish research, UK research, and international research consistently shows that suicides in prison are disproportionately committed by remand prisoners. • The slippery slope of criminal justice: those who have served time on remand are both more likely to receive longer custodial sentences than similar accused who are not on remand, and more likely to be risk assessed at a higher level in all future contacts with the criminal justice system.
Bad for communities • Prisonized communities: prison becomes a familiar and unremarkable social institution for the most fragile communities. • Disruptive to families: negatively affects relationships, job/education, housing with no positive effect of treatment or intervention.
Research tends to focus on generating evidence of harms to individuals and communities, but what about harms to society and the nation?
Bad for societies and nations • Physical health: remand facilities are highly efficient vectors of extreme drug resistant TB (e.g. New York, South Africa and Russia). • Civic health: ‘badly governed states with poor systems of public administration tend to have prisons that are disproportionately filled with pretrial detainees.’ (Schonteich 2007)
Legal & Policy Context • Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993 • Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 • Sentencing Commission review of Bail and Remand 2005 • Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007 • Scottish Prisons Commission, Summary Justice Reform
Effect of Changes • Legislation tightened up some routes into remand (‘no fixed abode’), but • Opened up new and/or longer routes (e.g. quadrupling of sentence for breaching bail) • Prisons Commission and Summary Justice Reform could allow for better use of remand, but it’s too early to tell.
Principles of Change • Fair, rational and sparing use --Open Society Justice Initiative --ECHR framework • Integrity and imagination of solutions: --sustainable and justifiable (values, evidence, resources) --hopeful and creative
So then what? • Minimise criminal and other harms to communities and individuals. • Reduce the use of remand. • Avoid making things worse. What could be done with £2 million?
Ideas • Empower local resources: greater involvement of CJAs • Ownership of reform by key stakeholders: judiciary as crafters of solutions • Do nothing sometimes: culture of constant revolution, false belief that more conditions means more supervision or accountability.
The nuclear step: charge admission fees for remand places? • Think small: postcards, telephone and text message reminders • Think big: in 2005/06, 774 people received bail supervision, 19,600 received jail. • Reverse paperwork burdens: risk management-style forms to complete where bail is not recommended or where Crown opposes it?