Excessive Use of Remand
People on remand are individuals who are being held in custody while awaiting further court appearance, usually trial and less often for sentencing after being found guilty. Ontario is unique in Canada for its heavy reliance upon sureties and remand. It holds three times as many of its citizens on remand as the United States and its heavy use of remand more closely resembles justice systems in the developing than the developed world.
Women are actually disproportionately affected by excessive remand rates. While only 20% of those criminally charged, they make up roughly half of the remand population. This is even more disproportionate when one considers that crimes committed by women are almost invariably minor crimes, such as prostitution, fraud and theft.
Remand is a provincial jurisdiction and with the closure of small local jails, most women from Toronto are held in remand in the correctional institution in Milton, Vanier. Those on remand, if before trial, are not eligible for prison activities such as working and recreational and social services.
As such, women incarcerated on remand are warehoused, idle, geographically distant from their support network and families, ineligible for services and, according to Canadian law, innocent.
EFry is working with The Canadian Association of Women’s Criminal Justice Residential Options (CAROW) co-ordinating a multipronged effort to reduce the overall number of remands.