France to build 33 new prisons across the country

France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced a plan to build 33 new prisons around the country by 2025 to deal with the chronic overcrowding in France's jails.

France to build 33 new prisons across the country
Photo: AFP

“We need to build 33 new penitentiary institutions: 32 prisons and one detention centre,” said the French PM Manuel Valls on Thursday.

He then spelled out just why France had no choice but to massively boost the number of prison beds in the country.

He said the overpopulation rate was over 140 percent. 

In July authorities counted 69,375 prisoners compared to 58,311 official places available in the country’s 188 prisons.

The PM added that the prison conditions “were not dignified for a country like France”.

Valls said the new prisons will be ready by 2025, but has highlighted nine priority areas.

The Paris region as well as Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur will be among the regions prioritized.

The south west and eastern France are also expected to see their prison populations rise and will also be given priority attention.

More specifically Valls said the nine priority sites were: Nimes-Ales, Strasbourg, Nantes-Saint-Nazaire, Toulouse, Nice, Avignon-Carpentras, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val de Marne and Val de l’Oise.

The PM said the government will not waste time finding sites and buying land where the new prisons can be built. However some prison chiefs have expressed suspicion about an announcement made just seven months before the presidential election.

Some in France say the solution to the prison crisis does not lie with more prisons. 

François Bes from the International Prison Observatory (OIP) believes young offenders should be sentenced to work or training to help get them back on the right path. He said in August that punishments that benefit the public could be handed out to those who damage property.

He pointed out that it costs France €100 a day per prisoner to lock them up, but for those who serve sentences without going to prison it's €40.

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