REMANDEES should not be locked up in Correctional Services (CS) institutions because they do not belong there, Correctional Service Commissioner Richard Sikani said yesterday.
Mr Sikani said remandees were the responsibility of police and should be locked up in police cells and not jails.
Airing his views on the FM100 radio talkback show, he said remandees were a nuisance because they contributed to overcrowding in jails and were responsible for most of the prison breakouts reported each year.
Mr Sikani and CS Minister Tony Aimo were on the Roger Hau’ofa “Talkback Show” yesterday discussing a wide range of issues affecting jails, including a growing aging workforce of warders over the age of 50 as against a growing prisons population, and a 200-home building project with Chinese investors in Lae.
Mr Sikani made it clear that remandees were not welcome in his jails, suggesting the creation of remand centres to hold them, adding that privatised remand centres should be investigated.
“We have enough problems as it is with a growing prison population without expansion in the facilities or manpower to cater for more prisoners.
We are severely under-resourced and the last thing we need is a trouble-making remandees population.”
He told the show that a prisoner on remand was someone who was imprisoned before the start of his or her trial.
Because the remandee has not been formally tried, he or she is presumed to be innocent under the principles of many legal systems, and therefore, the prisoner is entitled to special benefits and treatment which are not offered to regular prisoners.
Mr Sikani said being a prisoner on remand could still be stressful and emotionally distressing, leading to breakouts because such prisoners may feel like they were being punished despite the fact that they had not been convicted.
Under PNG law, someone becomes a prisoner on remand when he or she is denied bail because of the seriousness of the offence, cannot meet the terms for bail, or is unable to make bail.
After it has been determined that the prisoner is not eligible for or cannot make bail, the judge in charge of the case will indicate that the prisoner should be remanded to custody, meaning that he or she is taken to a prison facility.Prison facilities are used for prisoners on remand because they have more amenities than jails, as they are designed for long-term confinement.
Technically, a remanded is supposed to be housed in a different part of the prison than regular prisoners. However, they are often mixed with the general population, due to overcrowding problems or lack of segregated prison facilities.
Mr Sikani and Mr Aimo said this could be disheartening for the remandee, who may feel like he or she had been sentenced to prison without a trial, and given PNG’s clogged justice system, a prisoner on remand may also languish for an extended period of time in jail before he or she is brought to trial.