'On remand'

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Andreas Filip Borup Jensen
The purpose of this thesis is to examine which aspects of being held in custody, and the ensuing loss of freedom, are important for confined individuals, and what impact these aspects have on their daily lives.

In Denmark individuals are held in custody more often than countries we normally compare ourselves to, which has led to criticism. The special aspect of the time duration where a person is held in custody is that the individual is not charged, but held under suspicion of having broken the law. Legally, individuals are innocent until the question of guilt has been established at the ensuing trial. Often individuals are taken into custody without warning and lose their freedom with immediate effect. It seems paradoxical that individuals held on suspicion are confined under stricter conditions than individuals serving a sentence.
The methodology of this thesis is based on qualitative research. A case study forms the basis of the research strategy. The case study is based on participant observation carried out over a seven-day period in Helsingoer Arrest (Elsinore Jail) and constitutes the empirical basis of this thesis along with 11 semi-structured interviews.

I conclude that the immediate loss of freedom leaves confined individuals unable to uphold their usual patterns of behaviour as they are subjected to a detailed regimen of scheduled daily activities. Individuals who are held in custody for the first time find this aspect of confinement particularly difficult. The extent of these scheduled daily activities results in a situation where confined individuals experience difficulty in telling days apart, and daily life lacks variety.
Furthermore, I conclude that the indefiniteness of the length of custody has great significance. The indefiniteness of the confinement period can be understood in relation to power, because power and time are closely related. This indefiniteness creates frustration, and as a consequence the confined individuals may change their usual behavioural patterns.

I also conclude that the strict control of correspondence and visitors to the confined individuals have significant impact on their daily life, one consequence being that confined individuals choose not to have visitors at all. This strict control of correspondence and visitors can quite easily be circumvented, however, and often is. Yet, control over correspondence and visitors of confined individuals represents a form of power that confined individuals counter, for example through the illegal use of mobile phones in order to modify the control of outgoing correspondence.

The relationship between prison guards and individuals held in custody is unequal as prison guards have the option of sanctioning the confined individuals. The consequence being that individuals held in custody align themselves with the prescribed behaviour for inmates, for fear of loss of privileges. The unequal distribution of power results in an us–versus–them dichotomy between prison guards and confined individuals, which causes confined individuals to exercise different forms of counter-power.

The relationship between individuals held in custody depends largely on their social skills. The arenas where relationships are formed are food gatherings and other times at which department inmates convene. These department 'communities' assume great significance, since individuals in custody have few occasions for social interactions, hence the social balance must not be disturbed. This means that individuals held in custody create unwritten rules for socialising and expect each other to be loyal. Circumventing these rules can have dire consequences for the individual, in the form of physical violence for example.
LanguageDanish
Publication date2016
Number of pages90

Images

Andreas_Varet_gtsf_ngslingen.pdf
ID: 234851613