The prison is a controlled environment. The reason is for security, order and to prevent unauthorised things such as drugs from getting in.

Each prison evolves its own ‘prison culture’ – its way of life and the way that things are done. Part of this is the development of its own language (much consisting of swear words and the like but also words are used or avoided for superstitious reasons). There is a code too as to what is acceptable among prisoners and what is not (for instance you break the code if you inform the authorities about another prisoner’s misdemeanor). There can be a hierarchy among the prisoners with some being respected more than others. Traditionally there are some that are looked down upon by the other prisoners. Child molesters, rapists are probably more unpopular than murderers. Some prisoners have to be kept separate from others for their own protection.

Kindness is in very short supply within prison but not totally lacking and prisoners do help and encourage others so as do some of the staff.


The Arrest

When a person is arrested they are firstly taken to a police station where they are either released after investigation or charged and brought before a magistrate. To be arrested is very very frightening.

The Magistrate

The Magistrate can either

  1. remand the person in police custody and fix a time for an appearance in court. or
  2. take a plea of guilty or not guilty and try the case.

The person is then either sentenced, remanded in custody, or granted bail or released.

The Remand

A Remand is someone who is ‘on remand’ i.e. awaiting trial. They have not been found guilty in a court of law and therefore are legally supposed to be treated as innocent. A Remand is still in prison and has to abide by prison rules but has more privileges than a convicted prisoner. They are allowed more visits and letters, do not have to have a prison haircut (thought they have to wear prison uniform) and in some institutions they are allowed to have additional items such as sweets brought in to them.

Prisoners are not infrequently kept on remand for many many months. Their discomforture is increased by their not knowing what will happen to them at and after their trial.

The Trial

For more detailed information about the trial please refer to Section 4 on the Judicial Procedure. Suffice it to say here that the trial is another stressful event for the one being tried and should you already be visiting the person concerned we would suggest that you try to attend the trial to give them moral support and friendship. It is beneficial to the friendship for them to know that you still accept them even after you have heard what has been said in court. However, of course it is important to respect their wishes, and should they not wish you to be present at their trial, then you should certainly not go. In our experience, however it has always been welcomed.

If the person is found to be not guilty, they are immediately released. If found guilty then they are sentenced. This is not always to a prison sentence (for more information please refer to section 4)