Broadly speaking the term ‘remand prisoner’ refers to a person who has not yet been sentenced by the court. While there are some exceptions, most remand prisoners have not been convicted of an offence and enjoy the presumption of innocence. People who have been convicted of an offence are classified as ‘sentenced’ prisoners.
Remanding a person into custody is the most severe action the courts can take prior to determining someone’s guilt or innocence. The primary purpose of remand is to ensure that a person is available to attend their next court appearance. The court should also consider whether bail conditions may be imposed which would meet the same purpose.
A period of remand can put severe strain on the individual mentally, financially and socially. It can adversely affect the person’s relationships, their health, their employment status, and education. It can also isolate people from their support networks, particularly when the accused is from a remote or regional location.
Over the past six years in Western Australia the number of people in prison on remand has doubled. By contrast, sentenced prisoner numbers have only increased by 13 per cent.