Loved ones of remand prisoners: the hidden victims of COVID-19

Booth, N and Masson, I (2021) 'Loved ones of remand prisoners: the hidden victims of COVID-19.' Prison Service Journal, 253. pp. 23-31. ISSN 0300-3558

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In September 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) released their ‘criminal courts recovery plan’ . This detailed their intentions to pass temporary legislation to extend the time that defendants could be legally held in custody awaiting trial in England and Wales by two months. The MoJ’s request was couched as a response to the excess of cases created by the restrictions imposed on courts from the pandemic . However, evidence suggests that a bottleneck existed long before COVID hit, and that this pandemic has intensified rather than caused this backlog . A joint letter sent to the Government from national organisations with expertise in justice have said these changes were ‘not good for victims, witnesses, people remanded to prison or prisons’ . Expanding this argument, we critically consider the possible implications of this extension to the remand period for the loved ones (family, friends and significant others ) of people in prison, who are often marginalised by their absence in prison literature, practices, and policy decisions. The pandemic has resulted in some very difficult public health decisions and it is our intention to focus on some of the consequences of these decisions for the loved ones of remanded prisoners. It is important to remember that it is the act of imprisonment, of any length, ‘that constitutes the punishment’ meaning that legislations that change the prison experience (in this instance, the duration of remand) bring with them significant, additional repercussions to the lives of prisoners and their loved ones. While in this article we often detail how these are punitive consequences, we appreciate that they were not implemented for punitive purposes.

Item Type: Article

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Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2020 16:34
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2021 17:14
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