Date of Award

1997

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of (Justice Studies) Honours

Faculty

Health and Human Sciences

First Advisor

Mr Guy Hall

Abstract

When an offender receives a non-custodial sentence following remand custody then concerns must be raised that the pre-trial remand imprisonment was unnecessary and improper, with judicial, economic and humanitarian consequences that run counter to the philosophical and legislative expectations of a democratic justice system. This study analysed the use of remand custody orders over a six month charge period, by magistrates in Western Australia, to determine what proportion of offenders spent time in remand custody prior to receiving a noncustodial sentence. The results indicate that magistrates use the remand custody facility as a "short, sharp shock" to deter future offending, and to impose a defacto custodial sentence as "taste" of imprisonment. The results of the study revealed that of 414 offenders received into remand custody, 221 (53%) received a noncustodial sentence. Of these 221 offenders, 55% had never been in prison before, 71% had no previous breaches of bail, 68% were remanded without bail, and 14% had no previous criminal history. The average time spent in custody was 16.34 days (19. 91SD). The total number of days spent in custody was 3,612, at an estimated government cost of $0.5 million. Aboriginality was a significant factor between offenders remanded in custody and those at liberty in the community. However, Aboriginality was not significant with regard to inability to meet bail c6nditions. A comparative analysis between offenders "remanded in custody and those in the community revealed significant differences with previous breaches of bail, no previous criminal history, age of onset of offending and current age. Notwithstanding this, by a process of elimination of risk factors that are cited in the legislation (Bail Act, 1982), as criteria for release to bail or remand in custody, the study concluded there was no justification for the remand custody prior to a non-custodial sentence. Recommendations were made for'- further research to examine the legislation and decision making that determines the imprisonment of unconvicted persons. Research is also required to evaluate the humanitarian consequences of remand custody for offenders and their families.

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