Tag Archives: time spent in custody

Huhne and Pryce released after serving 2 months of 8-month sentences – Why?

HuneChris Huhne and Vicky Pryce
were today, 13 May 2013, released from prison after serving just
25% of their 8-month sentences.

The background facts leading up to
the sentencing hearing can be seen here.
Pryce was convicted of, and Huhne pleaded guilty to, perverting the
course of justice.

Both were sentenced to 8 months
imprisonment. We stated that both would be eligible for release at
the half way point of their sentences, but would also be eligible
for release on a tag after 2 months. Here
is how we dealt with the sentences.

They were released after serving
just 25% of their sentences. Why?

Release

Well when a court expresses a
custodial sentence in terms of months and/or years, that represents
the total sentence, not just the time spent in custody. So, where a
judge says ‘Mr Smith the sentence I impose upon you is one of 3
years’ imprisonment.’ That will often be followed by an explanation
of roughly how long will be served in custody. If the sentence is 3
years, Mr Smith will be eligible for release at the halfway point,
with the balance of the sentence being served on licence.

The licence essentially
comprises of restrictions placed upon the offender with a
requirement to meet a probation officer to discuss the offender’s
progress. Any offences committed on licence would result in the
offender being returned to prison to serve all or part of the
balance of the sentence and any sentence imposed for the new
offences.

HDC /
Tagging

Here
we explain the general rules for the release from prison
sentences.

So why
were Huhne and Pryce release after ¼ not ½ of their sentences? Well
prisoners serving certain sentences are eligible to be released on
a tag, also known as HDC or Home Detention Curfew. This involves
being released to a specified address, on the condition that a
curfew (and other conditions) are adhered to. Release on HDC still
forms the punitive part of the sentence, but with the benefit of a)
reducing the prison population (and so reducing costs), b) allowing
the offender to begin their reintroduction into society and c)
retaining a degree of punishment and supervision over the
offender.

Here
we explain the general rules for release on Home Detention Curfew
(also known as ‘tagging’).

Contrary to popular belief (and what
was said on Radio 4 this morning), there is no release on or for
good behaviour. Good behaviour in prison is rewarded with
privileges, unacceptable behaviour is punished. But the sentence of
the court remains. 8 months is 8 months (subject to release
provisions as determined by Parliament).

Good
behaviour

Otherwise, there could be
inconsistencies between different prisons – staying out of trouble
in Preston might (in the Governor’s view) warrant a 7 day early
release for good behaviour, but might result in only a 1 day early
release in Wandsworth. Clearly that would be
unfair.

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Time on Remand

Time on Remand

What does remand mean?

Being ‘on remand’ or a ‘remand prisoner’ means that you are kept in prison awaiting your trial. No decision has been made about the individual’s guilt or innocence, but it has been deemed appropriate to keep them in prison as opposed to allowing them to go home, and trusting them to return for the start of their case.

So what is time on remand?

Simply, it is the time that is spent as a remand prisoner, before your conviction (I say conviction, because if you are acquitted, time on remand is not an issue).

So what happens to that time?

It is recognised that, as a matter of fairness, if someone has spent time in prison awaiting their sentence, then this should count towards the sentence.

The relevant legislation is Criminal Justice Act 2003 s 240ZA (as amended by Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 s 108).

Who deducts the time?

This used to be done by the Judge, and he or she would make a calculation and order that those days be deducted.

In 2012, that changed, and the calculation is now done administratively by the Prison Service.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes, where a life sentence is imposed, the judge must still make an order for the days to count.

So the judge doesn’t have to worry?

Well, the judge should still explain the effect of the sentence to the defendant and state that the time on remand will be deducted administratively.

Are there any restrictions?

Well, they are mostly common sense based.

A day on remand can only count towards one sentence. If an offender is serving two or more sentences, the remand day can only be counted against one of the sentences.

A day on remand can only be used once in relation to a sentence.

A day on remand does not count if the offender is detained in connection with another matter.

Example

Brian is arrested and charged with rape. He is remanded on 1st August 2012. He is convicted on 31 December 2012. He receives 6 years.

The prison service will need to deduct 153 days from his sentence. How do they work that out?

Of his 6 year sentence (which is 2,129 days), Brian will be required to serve half (he is excluded from having a HDC tag because he is subject to notification requirements under the Sexual Offences Act 2003).

Therefore, he will serve 1,096 days. The Prison Service will then deduct 153 days from 1,096. The remaining 943 days will be the balance of the sentence which Brian must serve.

Time on a tag/curfew

This section will be added shortly.