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Persistent overcrowding in prisons and a questionable sentence enforcement policy


For over twenty years, the prison population has been rising steadily, reaching an all-time high of 73,000 by the end of 2022. This places France among the ten European countries in which the prison population is increasing. The majority of inmates are young men with social and medical vulnerabilities, particularly psychological vulnerabilities, and are involved in re- offending with multiple convictions. As a result, remand prisons are still to some extent the asylums they have long been. The result is that prisons are becoming increasingly overcrowded: by the end of 2022, the remand prison occupancy rate was almost 143%. This over-occupation is a major constraint on the prison sentence enforcement policy, and the Court of Accounts has estimated its overall cost at around €4 billion.

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