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What is a Prisoner on Remand?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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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.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Historical Index researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon338180 — On Jun 11, 2013

Can you still write to family members when you're on remand?

By anon281523 — On Jul 24, 2012

I have been on remand and I can honestly tell you it's just the same as being a convicted prisoner. You get locked up at the same time as everyone else, have the same benefits, etc. I found it was quite stressful as you are treated as being guilty, even though you may not be.

After my trial in court, I was found not guilty and was released but it is an experience that I will never forget.

By oscar23 — On Apr 12, 2011

Out of curiosity, is there a reason that a prisoner would prefer to be remanded? For instance, could their be any legal benefits for requesting to be remanded rather than let go until the trial. I don't even know if it's possible to request that, but I'd be really curious to find out more about the process.

Does anyone have any idea?

By Agni3 — On Apr 09, 2011

@sixty5 - What a great question! I suppose the best answer to that is probably simply that there are too many people in the system and not enough places to put them. The meaning of remand basically is to take a person who is accused of a crime and keep them in the system until they have their day in court. There are usually excellent reasons that this happens. Unfortunately, it occurs quite a bit, which leads to clogged up systems with too many people to hold and not enough places to hold them. It stinks for the innocent, but I don't have a good solution to the problem either.

By sixty5 — On Apr 09, 2011

I know there are various reasons a prisoner is on remand - bail issues, or just awaiting trial. They are supposed to be in a separate holding area of the prison. But, I imagine this may not always be possible and there is a chance they could be bunked with a convicted prisoner. If they are not convicted, why are they in the same prison at all instead of a jail holding cell?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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