The prison system in France

From EFCS [[]]

Jump to: navigation, search

Since the controversial book on French prisons was issued in 2000, Véronique Vasseur, a doctor in a large French prison, has shown to what extent the national detention system is in a disastrous state. A briefing by the European commission, in 2005, reconfirmed the disturbing state of French prisons to the point where we can ask the following question: To what extent are justice and detention "disaster-stricken" in France? We will try to answer this question by producing an analysis on the demographic overcrowding of prisons, the causes of malfunction, and finally the lack of a reintegration policy.


[edit] 1 Crisis of detention services in France: overcrowded prisons

[edit] 1.1 Cemetery prisons

The case of increasingly longer sentences in France creates veritable "cemetery prisons" where the culprit is condemned in his/ her past.[1] This imprisonment crystallizes an almost infinite mineral punishment suggesting a veritable social suicide for the person.

[edit] 1.2 State of affairs

In addition to this ideological crisis, the overcrowding of prisons is a reason for the numerous and regular strikes among security guards: their demands are often accompanied by a political and social desire to present a "state of affairs".[2] But this culture of audit rapidly reaches its limits, for the financial efforts seem too significant to mobilize and surpass.

[edit] 1.3 Robert Badinter

The republican prison has a painful past due to the use of the guillotine which operated until 1981. The abolition of the death penalty this same year brought an end to the bloody pages of the history of the French judicial system.[3] Still, today, living in prison is synonymous with "surviving" in prison.[4]

[edit] 2 The many causes of these malfunctions

[edit] 2.1 Bronislaw Geremek

The historical causes of this intrinsic violence in prisons are of a social nature. When the guillotine was still in use, the working class signified a dangerous class.[5] The worker was not well-perceived. He was suspicious. Today, social exclusion is less pronounced, but in prisons, overcrowding ingrains those excluded from the outside in a rationale of dangerous promiscuity that only encourages recidivism.

[edit] 2.2 Michel Foucault

The causes of the detention system crisis are also political. People must be "supervised and punished": this is reasoning of State.[6] Since its birth, the prison was created as a political Pygmalion to enclose people between the gallows and mercy.

[edit] 3 From hate to life: Prisons that humanize

[edit] 3.1 The "Prison de la Santé"

Is there a rhetoric that still functions today, considering how much individuals have become varied in terms of their day? Reestablishing a balance between suppression and sanction, and improving the material day to day life of the prisoners seem possible. But prospects of modernity do not concern only a few prisons.[7] A law passed in April of 2002 permits the presence of an external lawyer, in order to avoid "disciplinary districts".

[edit] 3.2 Citizenship and jails

One challenge to emphasize is the necessity of an educational and psychological relationship with the prisoner. The prisoner of the 21st century must move from delinquency to the discovery of his/ her responsibilities as a citizen.[8] This social recovery of the prisoner also requires an investment by the State.

[edit] 3.3 Educational support

Autobiographical stories of former prisoners testify that even in the hell of prison, one can find hope thanks to educational support.[9] Endeavors of social rehabilitation give a human meaning to imprisonment and may heal the original scar of the crime.

Currently, the French justice system has decided to build a large number of prisons in order to control the minor crimes that are relatively frequent in the country, all the while improving the conditions of imprisonment. But the persisting economic crisis prevents or slows these efforts. It is all these difficulties, and a few successes, of the French prison system that will be at the heart of our future analyses in the EFCS.

[edit] 4 References

  1. MARCHETTI ( Anne - Marie), Perpétuités : le temps infini des longues peines, terre humaine, Plon, 2001, 526 pages.
  2. L’observatoire international des prisons, Prisons : un état des lieux, l’esprit frappeur, 200.
  3. BADINTER (Robert), La prison républicaine : 1871-1914, LGF, 1994, 473 pages.
  4. LHUILLIER (Dominique) et al. , Le choc carcéral : survivre en prison, Bayard, 2001, 310 pages.
  5. GEREMEK ( Bronislaw), La potence ou la pitié : l’Europe des pauvres du Moyen –âge à nos jours, Gallimard, Coll.Bibliothèque des Histoires, 1997, 330 pages.
  6. FOUCAULT (Michel), Surveiller et punir : naissance de la prison, Gallimard, Coll. Tel, 1975, 318 pages.
  7. VASSEUR (Véronique), Médecin chef à la prison de la santé, Le cherche Midi, 2000, 201 pages.
  8. VAILLANT ( Maryse), La réparation : de la délinquance à la découverte de la responsabilité, Gallimard, Coll., Sur le champ, 1999, 147 pages.
  9. MAURICE (Philippe), De la haine à la vie, Le cherche Midi Editeur, 2001, 388 pages.
Previous article Back to the main page Next Article
Unemployment, racism and poverty in France Main Page The French judicial system