The Use of Prison
Most people would agree that prison should be considered as a last resort for people involved with crime and should be reserved for violent and dangerous offenders.
However, while the number of Headline Offences (see previous section) decreased in the late 1990s, the number of people committed to prison increased during this time. The use of prison has become much more prevalent.
Over the last decade crime rates have remained stable, with the exception of fluctuating homicide rates. Despite this, the daily average number of prisoners increased dramatically from 2,500 in the 1990s to 3,500 in the 2000s. Many of these prisoners are serving short sentences for non-violent offences.
People detained in prison are classified as follows:
Sentenced: having been found guilty of a crime, individuals are sentenced by the courts to prison for a specific period of time.
Remand awaiting trial: arrested and charged for an offence, if the court believes the individual will re-offend or intimidate witnesses prior or during the trial, people are remanded to prison until the outcome of the criminal proceedings.
Remand awaiting sentence: having been found guilty of an offence, individuals are remanded in prison until sentence.
Under Immigration Law: a growing number of asylum seekers and migrates – who have not committed any crime – are being detained in prison at the request of the immigration authorities.