In recent times, the media has provided endless stories of escapes, escape attempts, strikes, riots, fires and other disturbances in our prisons. Underlying many of these problems is overcrowding in Australia's mainland prison systems.
The major cause of prison overcrowding has been a massive increase in the numbers of unconvicted prisoners, or remandees, over the past decade or more, rather than an increase in the numbers of sentenced prisoners. This is a matter of great concern, as both technically and legally, remand prisoners are innocent of any crime until it has been proven otherwise.
Earlier research by the Institute has shown that the majority of remandees are not sentenced to prison as they are either acquitted, sentenced to non-custodial penalties or released to bail before the court appearance. Why then were these people remanded in custody in the first place?
This Trends and Issues presents an original method of developing profiles of the structure of remand populations in order to identify the most appropriate strategy to reduce remand numbers in each jurisdiction. It therefore has important practical implications for both the courts and prisons.