Imprisonment Today: Current Issues in the Prison Debate by Simon Backett, John McNeill, Alex Yellowlees

By Simon Backett, John McNeill, Alex Yellowlees

A suite of papers on quite a few facets of the imprisonment method within which every one bankruptcy highlights a serious sector within the prisoner's passage throughout the penal approach. The booklet goals to advertise a better realizing of the problems and difficulties inherent to the British penal procedure.

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Both measures overdetermined bail/ remand practice in favour of remand. This was witnessed - after a short term fall - by the dramatic rises in the remand population outlined above. The 1976 Bail Act, for example, introduced a presumption in favour of bail. Whilst informing courts that they were obliged to use bail rather than custodial remand, however, the Act specified that this was only to be the case where 'special overriding circumstances' did not apply. These circumstances are set out as follows: that there is a likelihood that the accused will abscond; that there is a likelihood that the accused will commit further offences while on bail; (iii) that there is a likelihood that the accused will intimidate witnesses or otherwise interfere with the course of justice; (iv) that there are fears for the accused person's own safety.

Consequently, prisoners continue to be subjected to an inflexible system that perceives conformity as progress meriting advancement, and any resistance to or deviation from its prescribed formulae as evidence of a deeply ingrained deviant nature. Regrettably, prisoners have little choice but to conform, as any refusal to comply with this variant of operant conditioning, or any failure to participate will have serious consequences for the quality of their lives and those of other members of their family.

But if research has tended to stop short of larger questions of this sort, it has also failed to take into account the extent to which the 'law in the books' is a determinant of practice. 24 Impr~onmentToday THE LIMITS OF THE LAW Where a local culture of custody has developed, experience shows that legislation alone, directed at changing court practice, cannot effect a shift in attitudes and practices. Perhaps this goes some way towards explaining why there has been so much interest in the 'law in practice' and so little in the 'law in the books'.

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