• The controller of places of deprivation of liberty, Dominique Simonnot, presented this Thursday her annual report.
  • In this 188-page document, the former journalist of the Canard enchaîné denounces in particular the "guilty inertia" of the government in the face of record prison overcrowding in France.
  • It also paints a very bleak picture of violations of rights in prisons, administrative detention centres or closed educational centres.

The Controller-General of Places of Deprivation of Liberty, Dominique Simonnot, presented her annual report on Thursday. The information it contains "has been cross-checked as said in journalism, and objectified as they say in the administration," explained at the press conference, the former judicial columnist of the Canard enchaîné, who took the head of this administrative authority in the fall of 2020. In this 188-page document, based on visits made by five teams in 2022, it denounces "a general abandonment of places of confinement that concerns both staff and people deprived of freedoms". Overcrowded prison, hygiene problems, violence... 20 Minutes takes stock of what to remember.

Record prison overcrowding

73,080 prisoners for 60,899 places. A new all-time high was reached in French prisons in April. In remand prisons, the average occupancy rate rises to 142.2%. Inmates often have to live "three per cell, 21 hours a day with less than 24 m1 of living space per person." "When I entered a cell, the inmates told me not to sit and showed me their arms devoured with bed bug bites. Looking out the window, we see rats, stray cats, it stinks everywhere, "says the former court columnist.

Beyond living conditions, this overcrowding complicates "access to training, access to healthcare, access to education, work... There are too many people." It is "a source of violence and tension".

It denounces the "solution put forward by the State" to fight against prison overcrowding: the construction of 15,000 new prison places by 2027. "This is a promise already made by I do not know how many presidents of the Republic," she notes. Lutterbach prison, for example, opened in December 2021... and is "already 190% full". "So it's proof that the more you build, the more you fill."

The insalubrity of police custody facilities

In 2022, the CGLPL visited 44 police custody facilities. In her report, she denounced the "lack of hygiene" of the cells, even in the most recent police stations. "You have to have your heart firmly attached to sit in a cell, shared by several people, without toilets, or with the toilet that does not work," she describes. There are, often in insufficient number, "mattresses that are not disinfected between two detainees, filthy blankets that serve several".

In her report, she also expressed concern about the almost systematic removal of glasses and bras from detainees, which, she wrote, placed "the person being heard in a humiliating situation that weighs on his ability to defend himself." She also notes that access to the doctor "is more or less easy depending on the territories visited". Another point of concern: video surveillance whose use is spreading, "sometimes without precaution". It is therefore not uncommon for toilets to be in the field of the cameras."

Closed educational centres with very variable methods

In 2022, CGLPL teams visited three closed educational centres (CEFs). "This is the last step before prisons," sums up Dominique Simonnot. "We visit a lot of them. Some are extraordinary, with sustainable teams that really supervise the kids, where we learn trades. We see that it is going well. But in others, we found kids abandoned, smoking shit in their room while playing PlayStation," she says. She recounts, during this press conference, having discovered that two people, who worked in a closed nightclub at the time of the health crisis, were hired as educators in a CEF. "As soon as a kid did a, he got a potato."

In her report, she lists the problems observed in these centers: "Lack of trained staff, violence, racketeering, drugs, neglect. Some end up closing. Then reopen, then close again. And the former journalist concludes: "Before creating other CEFs, perhaps we should think better? It is obvious that children are our future. How is it conceivable to abandon them in this way? »

Overcrowding of administrative detention centres

In 2022, the CGLPL visited four administrative detention centres (CRA), where foreigners in the process of deportation are placed. Here too, it denounces in its report the lack of maintenance and hygiene of the premises. "There are fights, fights... The police do not intervene because they are afraid. The conditions of confinement are deplorable. At night the doors don't close, so people hold out sheets that they try to hang with toothpaste. The Court of Auditors, she said, estimated the amount of detention of a person at 690 euros per day. Yet the detainees, who "live in anguish", "complain of being hungry", and "there is nothing to distract themselves".

Detention "must last the time strictly necessary for removal," says Dominique Simonnot. "But there are very few removals because the countries of origin do not take back their nationals. It's a difficult exercise in diplomacy."

  • Justice
  • Prison
  • Held
  • Prison overcrowding
  • Custody