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2014-03-11 at 14:57

The cost of custody

The Thunder Bay District jail houses those in remand
Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
The Thunder Bay District jail houses those in remand
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By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

Being remanded can cost a person a lot more than legal fees.

Around 66 per cent of the province's 70,000 prisoners are in remand - the state of being held in custody during court proceedings - on any given day.

"They're incarcerated but not sentenced," said John Howard Society residential services manager Colleen Peters.

And 68 per cent of those people are non-violent offenders.

Peters said there are a lot of factors as to why a person might not be released while going through the criminal justice system, but a lot of it comes down to poverty.

"So if the person doesn't necessarily have the financial means or the social connections or even a suitable safe place to reside at they can be detained versus being released," she said.

The remanded population is housed in prisons for months and sometimes even years. No one knows when they'll be released. Maximum security prisons also means they face overcrowding, isolation and a person doesn't have access to services or opportunities that convicted prisoners have such as outdoor time or visitation guaranteed.

It's an archaic system that doesn't meet the needs of the person or the public at large Peters said. Even worse, in the system a person could lose their home, their job and even their children while they wait.

"There's a lot of unintended consequences that happen for someone who is on remand," she said.

The remand system was highlighted during the John Howard Society's Community Lunch and Learn Counterpoint session Tuesday afternoon. It's a chance for the general public to learn about different parts of the criminal justice system and dispel some myths.

"People have the power to make changes," Peters said.

 


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Comments

We've improved our comment system.
cariboukid says:
The Government of Ontario's official mantra when it comes to corrections and incarceration is "reducing recidivism everywhere."

Unfortunately, they'd rather spend the taxpayer's money on keeping people in prison vs. spending that money on programs that actually turn repeat offenders into contributing members of society, improving a person's life and thereby keeping them out of the system in the first place.

"Reducing recidivism everywhere" is just an empty statement. Sure looks good on paper though.
3/11/2014 3:10:49 PM
mystified says:
Three remands by the crown and the guilty walk away free.
No doubt there are people sitting in prison who definitely shouldn't be there because there is no risk in letting these people go about life until the next court date.
3/11/2014 3:45:02 PM
dana says:
guilty til proven innocent is that a human right but extended version means as long as you got cash money lol
3/11/2014 3:57:04 PM
Wolfie says:
If the rich are guilty until proven innocent, then I'm glad I'm not rich.
3/11/2014 5:34:33 PM
fyema says:
Talk to the lawyers,,,and the judges ,,,
3/11/2014 6:15:52 PM
Wile E. says:
Accused will spend a large amount of "dead time" in remand so the judges will give them extra credit for time served. It's a game defence lawyers play all the time for seasoned criminals. Judges like to give conditional sentences and house arrest which may be the reason for a low percentage of sentenced inmates. Don't believe everything the John Howard Society says. They are bleeding hearts for sure.
3/11/2014 6:56:22 PM
hobbesian_scholar says:
Incorrect. There is no 'extra credit' for time served anymore - it's one for one.

And it isn't just the percentage of remand versus sentenced inmates that's at issue - the actual number of those on remand has drastically increased, which is a fact independent of changes in sentencing practices.

3/11/2014 10:24:25 PM
Wile E. says:
Hobbesian, that's what the justice department says, no extra credit for remand time, but in the end the judges do whatever they want. They will take into account their remand time but won't say it like they used to on record. Again, courts are slow because of the lawyer games that are played out on a daily basis. Lawyers will drag out cases for months and years to bleed out their clients. Attend court and you will see it first hand. And don't feel pity for the large percentage on non-violent offenders. These are the scumbags that break into your homes and steal your stuff.
3/12/2014 8:36:22 AM
hobbesian_scholar says:
Judges have some discretion but cannot do 'whatever they want.' Canada actually imposes some guidelines and limits for them in 2014.

There is some truth to your comment about 'lawyer games;' there does exist some manipulation of the system.

And yes - I should attend court, as you suggest, so I can witness that of which you write.

As for pity, you can leave it to me to best decide where I ought to direct it.
3/12/2014 12:28:49 PM
Bigtime says:
Your both incorrect. Judges do not apply the "extra credit".
Under the Prisons and Reformatories Act and the Ministry of Correctional Services Act sentenced offenders are allowed to accumulate a specific number of days of earned remission to reduce their time spent in custody.
By following institutional rules as well as conditions governing temporary absences, sentenced offenders can be credited with 15 days earned remission for each month served. This means they are eligible to earn remission equalling approximately one third of their sentence and may be eligible for release after serving roughly two thirds of their sentence.
The Ontario Parole Board makes decisions for early release for offenders serving 2 years less one day, Canada Parole Board makes decisions for offenders service more than 2 years. Not the judges. The Ministry of community safety and correc. services makes this information available for all of us on their website in an effort for citizens to understand the system.
3/12/2014 8:40:45 AM
Wile E. says:
Thanks Bigtime for your detailed insight into sentenced inmates. But myself and Hobbessian responded to the article which was referring to inmates who haven't had their day in court or who have yet to be sentenced. Again, judges can do whatever they want in their court.
3/12/2014 10:28:48 AM
hobbesian_scholar says:
Good cut and paste job. The content, however, does not render what I said incorrect. Individuals receiving a custodial sentence are now only credited directly for each day served in pre-sentence detention. Until fairly recently someone could receive credit of 1.5 (or, in certain instances, more) days for each day they were detained prior to sentencing. The main rationale was that the nature of remand custody was notably worse than that of time served in a correctional centre, that an individual might receive EXTRA credit (as opposed to direct credit) for pre-sentence custody. But thank you for trying to clarify the system for me and informing readers of the wealth of knowledge made available online by the MCSCS.
3/12/2014 12:21:10 PM
a5220765 says:
There are more programs in Canada that attempt to sway people away from a life of crime than in almost any other country. That really isn't the problem at all. Sad about these people in remanded custody though, if they are not guilty at least.
3/11/2014 10:28:31 PM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
The Rich buy their Justice, the rest of us just get laws.
3/12/2014 10:46:55 AM
Jon Powers says:
Just another prommiss broken by Mr. Harper.

Mr. Harper wants all of us to pay for the offender and make us all wait longer times for hospital stays and "Code-Grid-Lock" too.

The Government Or Crown has got to stop wasting Tax-Monies.

Hey Ontario! Stop Spending money you don't have!


Great Posts!
tbnewswatch.com
3/12/2014 1:26:04 PM
udecide says:
" Colleen Peters " please enlighten us on what you believe are non violent offences. You should get hold of Vince Li ( Lee ) who is now out walking around unescorted after beheading a bus passenger. I am sure you consider him/non violent, innocent also. PEOPLE STOP DONATING TO JOHN HOWARD, YOU ARE HELPING PUT CRIMINALS BACK ON THE STREEt.
3/12/2014 2:51:40 PM
hobbesian_scholar says:
Very poorly-informed comment, 'udecide.'

The reference in the article is to people charged with non-violent offences (theft, fraud, drug possession, administrative breaches, etc.).

According to you, when someone's sentence is up they should just be released into the community with no assistance. Without supports in place the odds of re-offending are much higher. THAT is what impedes community safety - NOT an agency committed to assisting individuals transition effectively from custody into the community.

Uninformed opinions like yours are harmful and fear-mongering. Research the roots of crime before spewing nonsense. The individual case involving extreme violence and psychosis is not reflective of the average case of someone in conflict with the law.
3/12/2014 4:13:45 PM
pc says:
let's just catch the criminal slap him on the knuckles tell him or her they are naughty children and send them on their way.
With the parole system and the Johh Howard society and Justin Trudeau, these criminal are just misunderstood individuals who do not feel comfortable in society.
So the police wrap the knuckles and judge give the thug a hug and you should have solved the problem and they promise to never be bad again.
Guess what it does not work with children so it certainly will not work with adults and teens.
3/12/2014 8:36:48 PM
udecide says:
" hobbesian_scholarsays"...last comment as I HAVE TO GO TO WORK, you prob have all day to sit at your computer as you collect welfare. You are very GULLABLE. Go to the district jail and give out hugs to our local criminals. You would be great as a local city councillor. Read into that as you may.
3/13/2014 9:43:31 AM
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