A first in Europe.
The Rennes penitentiary center will open in September a Radicalization Support Unit (QPR) for women, with the aim of “disengaging” these inmates from Islamist violence.
"It's anything but a reinforced isolation district," says Véronique Sousset, the director, presenting Thursday to several media the cells still under construction which will be occupied by six women in September, and about thirty in the long term.
Since 2016, the prison administration has opened QPRs for men, now six in number.
And it is the Rennes prison that was chosen for women because "there is a know-how, a tradition, an experience of the establishment which is used to welcoming terrorist detainees", such as Basques, reports Véronique Sousset.
It is the largest establishment in the French penitentiary park exclusively for women, with nearly 200 inmates.
This QPR for women "is a first in France and in Europe", according to Véronique Sousset.
Cells separated from the rest of the prison
To enter this QPR, you have to cross a large cloister-shaped courtyard in this prison built in the 19th century and which has the particularity of being located in the city center, a hundred meters from the futuristic Rennes train station.
Then you have to cross a gate on the first floor to discover cells of 11 m2, from where you can see through the bars of the houses of the Breton capital.
To avoid any proselytizing with the other prisoners, "these cells are sealed from the rest of the detention", specifies Véronique Sousset, stressing that these women will benefit from an activity room or a courtyard for the walk apart.
It should also be noted that the furniture (bed, wardrobe, WC) will be sealed for questions related to security, while six Islamist attacks have taken place in French prisons since that of Osny (Val d'Oise) in 2016. All cell openings will be carried out by a pair.
Sport, analysis of religion and self-esteem
Another proof of the atypical character of the QPR, the fifteen people assigned to the surveillance of the district, all volunteers, received a specific training of three weeks.
During their stay in these QPRs, "they will have a real schedule and will be quite busy," promises Marie Fageot, integration and probation counselor.
On the program: sport, actions on disengagement from violence, work on self-esteem, the place of women in society or the arrival of a Paralympic vice-champion.
In addition, "we are going to call on mediators of the religious fact who are Islamologists and will make it possible to approach the religious fact from a historical-critical point of view", explains François Toutain, director of the penitentiary services of insertion and of Ille-et-Vilaine probation.
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The objective is not to constitute a unit of “de-radicalization”: “we have neither miracle recipe, nor magic wand.
Deradicalization is a fantasy, it probably does not exist ”, judge Ismaël Righi, deputy director for the fight against radicalization.
The plan is to "instill in them a doubt about their belief and what they have been made to believe".
A six-month stint in QPR
Also, the passage in these QPRs is for a period of six months, renewable, knowing that the first reports of the QPRs among men show that this work of "disengagement" must generally last 18 months to bear fruit, before returning to France. ordinary detention.
According to sociologist Geraldine Casutt, researcher at the University of Friborg (Switzerland) and specialist in issues of female jihadism, “the fact that a penal policy is being put in place for women shows that there is an awareness of the importance of women in the jihadist place ”, in an opinion now marked by the failed attack on Notre-Dame by a commando of jihadist women in 2016.
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"For a long time, we wanted to consider them above all as victims of this radicalization, in the end it was always
, because they fell in love or were manipulated without ever being really perceived as actors of this jihadist commitment", note- she does.