The Problems Faced by Family Members of Remand Prisoners

H. P. K. N. Hewawasam


The existing legal system prohibits the arbitrary arrest and detention ofindividuals but at times, police defy these provisions. Depending on the significance ofthe role played by the arrested individual, his/her dependents have to adjust their livesafter such an incarceration.

This research was conducted to examine the emotional, psychological,developmental, familial and financial consequences of remand incarceration on thefamilies of inmates. Finally, the study looked into how society reacted towards thesefamilies.

The sample consisted of 150 remand prisoners awaiting trial for a long period inWalikanda and New Magazine prisons Sri Lanka. Another sample of 50 families wasselected randomly from the prisoners in Colombo District who have been detained incustody for more than one year.

The data for the research was gathered using a structured questionnaire andinterviews. Both remand prisoners and their family members were interviewed.

Results of the study show that when the remanded prisoner is the breadwinner ofthe family, rest of the family is subjected to adverse financial difficulties. When fatherof the family is imprisoned, mother and children of the family are often subjected to themiseries of hunger.

The incarceration of a parent, in most cases, results in severe disruptions inchildren‟s education unless someone else -may be a relative- provides a helping hand.It was revealed that if the families of detainees lived in a community with socio statureequal to that of theirs, the negative social impact will be lesser than if they lived in acommunity with a social stature superior to that of theirs.

The study concluded that incarceration of a family member has a negativebearing on the family but the level of impact differs from one case to another dependingon the nature of contribution detainee used to make to the family.

Key words: Imprisonment, Remand, Family problems

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