It is undoubtedly the most unexpected proposal of the bill to "restore the confidence" of the French in the justice system.
The Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti said he was in favor of the abolition of credits for automatic reduction of sentences for prisoners.
An announcement that was immediately greeted with "astonishment" by many magistrates and lawyers, seeing it as a "demagogic" measure.
What is it exactly?
The Parisian takes stock.
What is this device?
In fact, the sentences executed by detainees are almost systematically lower than those pronounced upon conviction.
This situation is made possible by the existence of the Penalty Reduction Credit (CRP), a device enabling the length of imprisonment calculated according to the length of the sentence to be reduced.
Passed under the Perben law in 2004, this measure grants each convicted person - with the exception of convictions for terrorism - a precise reduction in sentence: three months the first year, two months the following years, and seven days by months for sentences of less than one year.
This remission of sentence takes place automatically; the inmate does not have to request it.
However, this remains conditioned on its good behavior.
"The judge of application of sentences can decide not to grant this discount after a refusal to comply or an altercation for example", underlines with the Parisian Cécile Marcel, director of the International Observatory of the prisons (OIP).
It should be noted that this reduction of sentence should not be confused with the additional reduction of sentence (RSP), which is not automatic, but rewards convicts who demonstrate "special efforts at reintegration".
"It can be an inmate who follows training, who begins therapy or who invests in the life of the establishment," adds the director.
What does the reform provide?
The Minister of Justice therefore intends to abolish the automatic reductions of sentence, put in place according to him "for the sole purpose of regulating the penal population, without saying so".
“There are two types of sentence reductions.
There are the ones you get through effort and there are the automatic sentence reductions.
Automaticity is made for machines and not for human beings.
(...) Me, I want to focus on the effort, ”he added Wednesday at the microphone of France Inter.
In the future, sentence reductions would therefore only be granted to prisoners who demonstrate exemplary behavior.
. @ E_DupondM: "There are two types of sentence reduction: the one you get when you are detained thanks to the effort, and automatic sentence reductions. Automaticity is made for machines and not for human beings. "
# le79Inter pic.twitter.com/ecMiwNJZ24
- France Inter (@franceinter) March 3, 2021
At the same time, the Minister of Justice reaffirmed that a large plan to build additional prison spaces was underway.
"We have hired 7,000 prison places, and we have, moreover, found the sites allowing the construction of 8,000 places", he detailed, assuring that "it is not a question of incarcerating more , but to incarcerate with dignity ”.
Why is she criticized?
However, it is an understatement to say that the reform of automatic discounts was coldly received by legal professionals.
"We are a little overwhelmed, the current system has yet proved its worth," says Céline Parisot, president of the Union Syndicale des Magistrates.
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A shock shared by Cécile Marcel of the OIP who denounces a measure "disconnected from prison reality" and "demagogic".
"How do you expect the detainees to make reintegration efforts when the prison administration is already unable to offer them the conditions?"
“Asks the director.
According to the Prison Observatory, one in four prisoners has access to work in prison and only one in six can follow vocational training.
Similarly, initiating a care process or therapy in prison is proving complicated to say the least: “Some people wait more than six months before getting a therapeutic appointment,” notes Cécile Marcel.
"Difficult in this case to show good will".
Hearings filmed, remissions of sentence, jurors ... What Eric Dupond-Moretti plans to reform justice
Above all, these remissions of sentence are essential to the project of reintegration of the convicted person, adds Céline Parisot.
“These sentence reductions are often seen as a hope and a form of visibility for inmates preparing for their release.
Understanding their reintegration project will become more complicated for them if they do not have a specific exit date, ”regrets the magistrate.
Finally, the abolition of these remissions could lead to longer incarcerations and thus worsen prison overcrowding.
A significant risk in view of the current situation, remind the actors of the legal world.
As a reminder, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) condemned France last year for its chronic prison overcrowding and its unworthy conditions of detention.
Where is the text?
For the time being, the bill, which could be soberly called "Law for confidence in the judicial institution", is still "being drafted", said the entourage of the minister to the Parisian.
The Minister of Justice wishes to present it to the Council of Ministers "in mid-April", before an examination in Parliament a month later, according to the same source.
In the meantime, the Minister of Justice must increase the number of trips, like this Thursday at the Villepinte prison (Seine-Saint-Denis), to defend his measure.
"Not sure that he will receive a very warm welcome ..." remarks Céline Parisot.