Topic1: What is the Problem?France has broken its own record of prison overcrowding assecurity boosts across the country in resply to recent terror attacks. Conditionsat Fresnes, in the Val de Marne region east of the capital, are “inhumanor degrading” according to the European Court of Human Rights norm. The prisonholds twice as many inmates as it can hold. The situation has deterioratedsince their last visit two years ago, while the prison’s population has soared52 percent in the last 10 years to 3,000. Meanwhile there is shortage ormanagement and supervisory staff and an estimated 70 percent of wardens aretrainees.
There is overpopulation of inmates, visiting rooms are small anddirty, toilets lack privacy and hygiene is deplorable, rats infest the prisoncourtyard, and have also invaded parts of the building, their urine leakingthrough artificial ceilings in the cells, and violent incidents between prisonersare frequent. Topic2: How does the problem affect the country?Suicide rates in French prisons are exceedingly high. “It’sshameful for a country like France to keep people with mental health conditionslocked up for months or years in prisons without adequate access to mentalhealth care,” said Izza Laghtas, Western Europe researcher at Human RightsWatch. Men and women with psychological disabilities are at risk ofsuicide or harming themselves. In some cases when their condition deteriorates theytransferred to psychiatric hospitals against their will.
Return to theprison 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 harmfulto the patient’s health and disruptive and costly to the prison and thehospital involved. The economic crisis has had noimpact on the annual budget of the prison administration. However, most of theadditional funds were allocated to increase the prison estate rather than rehabilitationintiavtives.
The number of prisoners employed in the industrial sector hasdecreased by 9%. s. Prisoners and their families are also affected by thecrisis. Beyond these issues, the impact of the crisis is felt at the politicallevel. The Government highlights the context of fiscal restraint to turn downany proposal to improve conditions of detention or to take into account therelatives of prisoners (strengthening social protection of detainees, financialsupport to families to enable them to cope with the expenses, increasedtraining etc.).