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Future of Remand Custody and Its Alternatives in Belgium

NCJ Number
Howard Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 43 Issue: 5 Dated: December 2004 Pages: 506-517
An Raes; Sonja Snacken
Date Published
December 2004
12 pages
With a view toward implementing policies that will reduce prison overcrowding in Belgium, this paper suggests how admissions into remand and the average length of remand custody can be reduced.
From 1996 to 2001, the authors examined court files, conducted participant observation of judges, and interviewed stakeholders to determine the use of remand custody and its alternatives. One focus of the analysis was to determine why the number of suspects in remand custody has remained high and whether this means that the alternatives to custody introduced in 1990 are failing to reduce the use and duration of remand custody. Based on this analysis, policy recommendations designed to reduce the remand population were developed. The analysis found that judges did not view the frequency of their remand decisions as being the problem, nor did they believe it advisable to reduce the number of individuals placed in remand. Judges viewed the source of the problem as the Ministry of Justice, which judges believed had failed to provide sufficient prison capacity for remand requirements. The authors reject the policy of limiting judicial discretion in the imposition of remand, but rather recommend providing support for judges in imposing alternatives to remand custody. This might be done by having judicial assistants, possibly probation officers, conduct efficient investigations of suspects and recommend possible alternatives to remand that would ensure public safety. Pretrial electronic monitoring was not favored by the judges. 11 notes and 31 references