1: What is the Problem?
France has broken its own record of prison overcrowding as
security boosts across the country in resply to recent terror attacks. Conditions
at Fresnes, in the Val de Marne region east of the capital, are “inhuman
or degrading” according to the European Court of Human Rights norm. The prison
holds twice as many inmates as it can hold. The situation has deteriorated
since their last visit two years ago, while the prison’s population has soared
52 percent in the last 10 years to 3,000. Meanwhile there is shortage or
management and supervisory staff and an estimated 70 percent of wardens are
trainees. There is overpopulation of inmates, visiting rooms are small and
dirty, toilets lack privacy and hygiene is deplorable, rats infest the prison
courtyard, and have also invaded parts of the building, their urine leaking
through artificial ceilings in the cells, and violent incidents between prisoners
2: How does the problem affect the country?
Suicide rates in French prisons are exceedingly high. Men and
women with psychological disabilities are at risk of suicide or harming
themselves. In some cases when their condition deteriorates they transferred to
psychiatric hospitals against their will. Return to the prison
environment – without sufficient support or appropriate accommodations – can
lead to a recurrence of mental health conditions and re-hospitalization, sometimes
ensnaring prisoners in an endless cycle of hospitalization, discharge,
deterioration, and re-hospitalization. Such a cycle is both harmful to the
patient’s health and disruptive and costly to the prison and the hospital
involved. The economic crisis has had no impact on
the annual budget of the prison administration. However, most of the additional
funds were allocated to increase the prison estate rather than rehabilitation initiatives.
Prisoners and their families are also affected by the crisis. The impact of the
crisis is also affecting the country political. The Government highlights the
context of tax restraint to turn down any proposal to improve conditions of
detention or to take into account the relatives of the prisoners.