A prisoner on remand is someone who is imprisoned before the start of his or her trial. Because the prisoner has not been formally tried, he or she is presumed to be innocent under the principles of many legal system and, therefore, is entitled to special benefits and treatment that are not offered to regular prisoners. Being on remand can still be stressful and emotionally distressing, however, as such prisoners may feel like they are being punished despite the fact that they have not been convicted.
Someone becomes a prisoner on remand when he or she is denied bail, cannot meet the terms for bail, or is unable to make bail. After it has been determined that the prisoner is not eligible for or cannot make bail, the judge in charge of the case will indicate that the prisoner should be remanded to custody, meaning that he or she is taken to a prison facility. Prison facilities are used because they have more amenities than jails, as they are designed for long-term confinement.
There are a variety of reasons to remand someone to custody rather than allowing him or her to roam free until the time of the trial. These individuals may be at greater risk of flight, for example, or there may be indications that the person will attempt to tamper with the case in some way. People may also be remanded if a judge suspects that they are likely to commit more crimes, or if they have committed similar crimes in the past. Remand is also recommended for people who have failed to complete community service terms and other court-imposed activities.
Technically, a prisoner on remand is supposed to be housed in a different part of the prison than regular prisoners. In actual fact, however, these individuals are often mixed with the general population, due to overcrowding problems or insufficiently segregated prison facilities. This can be very disheartening for a remand prisoner, who may feel like he or she has been sentenced to prison without a trial. Especially in areas with a clogged justice system, the person may also languish for an extended period of time in jail before he or she is brought to trial.
Remand prisoners are exempt from prison requirements like work service, as a general rule, and they may also be allowed more visitors, as well as being permitted to wear their personal clothes and to work on projects related to their upcoming trials. In areas where convicted felons cannot vote, these individuals are allowed to vote by absentee ballot, and they may also be entitled to continue receiving any government benefits they were receiving before they were remanded.