Remand imprisonment is not a punishment but a coercive measure executed during a pre-trial investigation and trial. When a person is suspected of a severe offence and the police wish to hold the suspect for longer than four days, the suspect can be detained by a decision of the district court. Generally, detention is used in order to secure the police investigation or to prevent the suspect from escaping. The Criminal Sanctions Agency and the police are responsible for the implementation of remand imprisonment.
Imprisonment is passed are either for a fixed term or for life. A fixed-term prison sentence is at least 14 days and at most 12 years long. When sentencing to a joint punishment, the maximum length is 15 years. During the enforcement of sentences, the length of several combined fixed-term prison sentences served at the same time may not be longer than twenty years.
Life imprisonment can be sentenced for only a few specific offences and a life sentence prisoner can be released on parole, i.e. conditionally released, at the earliest when at least 12 years of the prison sentence has been served. An offender sentenced to life imprisonment for an offence committed before the age of twenty-one years can be released on parole at the earliest when he or she has spent ten years in prison. A matter concerning release on parole is handled in Helsinki Court of Appeal. Before a life sentence prisoner is released on parole, he or she can be placed in supervised probationary freedom. Life sentence prisoners can also be released by the pardon of the President of the Republic.
A prison sentence not exceeding two years can be passed as conditional. In addition to the conditional imprisonment, an ancillary fine or, if the sentence is longer than eight months, an ancillary community service order of 14 – 90 hours may be imposed. An offender who has committed an offence under 21 years of age can be ordered to supervision in order to reinforce the sanction. The supervision is arranged by the Criminal Sanctions Agency. (See supervision of conditionally sentenced young offenders.)
The enforcement of conditional imprisonment is postponed for probationary period, which is at least one year and at most three years. If the sentenced offender commits a new offence during the probationary period for which the sentence would be unconditional imprisonment, the court may order the enforcement of the conditional imprisonment. The court may also order that conditional imprisonment be enforced only in part, in which case the remainder of the sentence continues to be conditional, subject to the same probation period.