Remand of detention has severe socio-economic impact on families - ACJR research

Remand detention is disproportionate and increasing in the Western Cape, such that over five years, 10 percent of adult men can be expected to be remanded. The extent of remand detention in the Western Cape is likely to have a severe financial impact on especially poorer communities.

These were the findings of the research report by Jean Redpath, a researcher at the Africa Criminal Justice Reform (ACJR) titled: Liberty not the only loss - The Socio-Economic Impact of Remand Detention in the Western Cape, which was launched in Cape Town yesterday. The report focuses on accused persons held at Pollsmoor remand facilities (male and female) in the Western Cape and investigates the socio-economic impact of remand detention on their families and dependents.

According to Redpath, the results of this study reveal that there is a negative measurable impact on the families and households of remand detainees. Some of the effects noted within the research are reduced household incomes, the selling of assets and the depletion of savings, which plunge families into debt. “It is estimated that 1 in every 50 adult men is admitted to remand detention per year in the Western Cape, with the attendant social and economic costs. The irresponsible over-use of remand detention is thus a serious concern, for families as well as detainees.”

The findings of the research suggest that arrest and remand are applied inconsistently across Cape Town, which raises concerns of inequality.

The report launch was followed by an interactive panel discussion about remand detention as well as the impact of the Pollsmoor court case brought forward by Sonke Gender Justice in 2016. The court case (Sonke v Government of the Republic of South Africa) was related to the severe overcrowding situation at Pollsmoor Remand Prison. Judge Saldana found that the conditions of detention were unconstitutional as they undermined the human rights of detainees. This not only has an impact on detainees, but also on their families and dependents who have to compensate for the shortfalls of government.

Media Coverage:

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Report on Impact of Remand Detention

Too many people are in jail awaiting trial - study

The View Point (28 May 2019). The Socio-Economic impact of Remand Detention in Western Cape