The CJA advocates for smarter sentencing which better helps people turn away from crime. We call for a more diverse judiciary, magistracy and legal profession that reflect the communities they serve, and set out how pressure can be eased on the overburdened criminal courts.
Our recent work:
Remand Expert Group
The CJA works to reduce the use of remand. Our Remand Expert Group, made up of members working within criminal courts and sentencing, informs this work. The groupmeets regularly to discuss trends and identify opportunities. We use their insights to influence policy makers.
In September 2020, the government published a White Paper setting out its plans for sentencing. We worked with members to respond, welcoming some positive proposals but raising significant concerns about changes which will mean more people being sent to prison and for longer periods of time. Read our briefing on the sentencing White Paper and read the government’s response.
Custody Time Limits
In September 2020, the Ministry of Justice extended the amount of time someone can be kept in prison awaiting trial before a judge must review their case. The government introduced this extension to the Custody Time Limit due to the large backlog in cases in the criminal courts. We wrote a letter to the Justice Secretary, as well asan article for the Justice Gap, calling for the government to invest in increasing court capacity rather extending the Custody Time Limit. Read the government’s response.
Routes to recovery from the pandemic
The pandemic has piled pressure on the already struggling courts, exacerbating the significant backlog in criminal cases. In the summer of 2020, we brought together members to discuss challenges during the pandemic and what is needed for recovery. Members working in courts and sentencing discussed the use of remand, the advantages and disadvantages of virtual hearings, pressure on Family Drug and Alcohol Courts and more.
In this briefing, we set out eight practical and incremental ways that the prison population could be reduced. Our recommendations include reversing the trend of increasing sentence lengths, reducing the use of short sentences, and reducing the number of people sent to prison to await trial.