Remand and reception

Arriving at prison

The reception process into a prison, any prison, will probably be the most intimidating you will experience. You will be strip-searched by prison officers and you may be medically examined, weighed, measured and photographed.  Reasonable force and disciplinary procedures may be used if you refuse to comply with being searched.  You will also be required to provide a urine sample for testing of illegal drugs in your system.


Once in prison you will be classified by the Sentence Management Unit.  Firstly you are classified as either sentenced or on remand and then you are classified with a security, and other, ratings (refer to the Classification fact sheet).  Those on remand are held in custody prior to their trial for criminal charges – and so have not been able to obtain bail.  Time spent on remand may be counted towards any sentence subsequently imposed. A person can be classified as A1 and held in a High Security Unit on remand, but this does not happen very often. Most people on remand and waiting to go to court are classified as A2 Maximum Security.  This only changes once you are convicted and sentenced.

Some remand prisoners are allowed to wear their own clothing, but apart from that there is no real difference between being on remand and sentenced in terms of your prison day.  Ideally, people on remand should be kept separate from sentenced prisoners, but this has never happened completely in Victoria.  After being sentenced you will be held at the Melbourne Assessment Prison, the Metropolitan Remand Centre or for females the Dame Phyllis Frost until you are classified.  Sentenced prisoners must wear prison issue clothing.

Your property

On arrival at prison, all your clothing, money and personal belongings will be taken from you and it should be recorded on the property records.  You will be asked to sign that all of your property is listed on the receipt – read this carefully. If you are going to challenge that some of your property is not listed then this is the time to do it.    You should receive a copy of this list – ask a staff member or your caseworker for it if you do not get one.  There are 3 lists: ‘Cell Property’, ‘Store Property’ and ‘Current Property’.  ‘Current Property’ is a list of what you have in the cell and in the property store – this is the one you want a copy of.


People in prison are not entitled to receive payments from Centrelink.  To avoid going in to debt, you should make sure your benefits have been cancelled.  Some prisons, such as at MAP, have a Centrelink representative at reception that records your entry in to prison so that payments can be cancelled.  If not present you should make sure it is cancelled for you – ask your caseworker how to do this.

Further information

This fact sheet contains general information only and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice. If you would like advice regarding a specific problem please contact one of the legal services listed in contacts or contact the Law Institute of Victoria’s Legal Referral Service on 9607 9311.

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