France’s prison population has reached a record total of 72,836, according to official figures released this week by the justice ministry. While the country’s jails are on average overcrowded at a rate of 120% of their official capacity, some are at more than 200% of capacity, and more than 2,000 inmates are forced to sleep on mattresses laid out on cell floors. Michel Deléan reports.
France’s prison inspection agency this week published a scathing report on conditions at Marseille’s notoriously dilapidated jailhouse, Les Baumettes, which it described as amounting to “a grave violation of fundamental rights”, and has called on the government to take urgent remedial measures at the almost 80-year old prison where overcrowding reaches 146%. The insalubrious and understaffed prison was officially declared a fire hazard in 2011 and is, the inspectors found, home to colonies of rats, cockroaches and louse where racketeering and violence are rife. Michel Deléan reports.