WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
April 19 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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Prisoners serving years on remand

Prisoners serving years on remand

A view of the priosn the exercise yard from inside the jail. HMP Wandsworth, London, United Kingdom

Prisoners are being held on remand for years, while victims of crime are waiting up similar periods for their cases to be heard in court, the Telegraph reports.

A record 16,200 people are presently imprisoned on remand without being tried or convicted. This is 16% of the total prison population – a 50-year high. The backlog of pending cases has risen to over 66,000, a significant increase from the 38,000 pre-pandemic.

Chief Inspector Charlie Taylor raises the issue of inmates serving their sentences ahead of court appearances, resulting in unexpected, unprepared releases. Prisons are described as “on the edge,” with only 1,100 spaces available out of 89,050, and a surge in violence, self-harm, and suicide.

The prolonged legal delays are taking a toll on victims, forcing them to put their lives on wait. The stress and delays increase the possibility that victims would abandon their claims, adding to an increasing “attrition” rate.

To decrease overcrowding, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk announced plans to eliminate many sentences of less than a year. Early release has become a widespread practice to relieve the burden on jail capacity.

Criminal justice watchdogs are deeply concerned about the increased risk to the public. Prolonged durations of remand may result in inmates being released into the community without proper supervision after conviction.

The Ministry of Justice claims that courts are functioning at full capacity and have boosted funding to manage the growing backlog. Efforts include increasing sitting days and having 20 Nightingale courtrooms available by 2024 to facilitate more hearings across the nation.