After two consecutive months of absolute record, the number of detainees in French prisons fell slightly to reach 72,173 people incarcerated on January 1, without affecting the general overcrowding of remand prisons, according to data from the Ministry of Justice. Justice released Thursday.
The prison population had reached its historic high on November 1, 2022, with 72,809 people behind bars, a record again exceeded on December 1, with 72,836 prisoners.
Nevertheless, the overcrowding is real: there are 60,670 operational places, i.e. an overall prison density of 119%, against 114.3% a year ago, according to ministry statistics.
This occupancy rate is 141.3% in remand prisons, where prisoners awaiting trial – and therefore presumed innocent – and those sentenced to short sentences are imprisoned.
56 prisons have a density greater than 150%.
This occupancy rate reaches or even exceeds 200% in six establishments (including 204.6% in Bordeaux-Gradignan and Foix).
2,111 detainees forced to sleep on the ground
Nearly 15,000 detainees are currently in excess of the places available in penitentiary establishments.
Due to this overcrowding, 2,111 are forced to sleep on mattresses on the floor.
Among the detainees, 18,961 are defendants, imprisoned awaiting trial.
A total of 86,734 people were placed in prison on January 1, a number again down from the previous month.
Among them, there are 14,561 non-detainees subject to placement under an electronic bracelet (13,865) or placement outside (696).
The number of female prisoners (3.6% of the total prison population) and that of minors (0.8%) are stable.
The chronic overcrowding of its prisons earned France a "historic" condemnation three years ago by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
To remedy these record occupancy rates, the government is counting on the construction of new prison places and on the effects to be expected from the extension of release under duress, which since January 1st allows the early release of detainees. sentenced to less than two years in prison and who have less than three months left to serve.
According to estimates by the ministry in April 2021, 6,000 detainees would be affected by this mechanism.