Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Prisons


On the France2 news last night, Véronique Vasseur, former chief physician of La Santé prison, made the startling assertion that 22 percent of the inmates of French prisons are sex offenders. Yet the means available to manage this population and prepare inmates for an eventual return to society are, by her description, woefully inadequate. Meanwhile, President Sarkozy, pursuing his habitual tactic of riding the waves of public emotion, has used the most muscular language in calling for tougher penalties, longer incarcerations, etc. Yet the reaction of the opposition has been muted. A good opportunity to point out the shortcomings of the right in power has been missed. Would it not be smart politics to point out that the party in power for the past 12 years might bear significant responsibility for the state of the prisons? Instead of deploring the president's ubiquity in the media, wouldn't a smart opposition use the issues to which he chooses to give salience against him whenever possible? Wouldn't a party truly concerned with its renovation stop sniping at itself and focus on the techniques that have been used to reduce it to impotence?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

While the percentage is high, the overall number isn't: somewhere over 8,000, for a population of over 60 million. (Since there are relatively few drug offenders in prisons in France, the total prison population is less than 50,000.)

So, yes, that's a lot of people, but not as many as the percentage suggests. Once again, statistics need to be looked at closely...

Unknown said...

Thanks for your comment. Your point is well taken. According to Wikipedia:

En juillet 2007, 61810 personnes sont écroués en France. Ce chiffe marque le plus haut niveau depuis le pic historique de juillet 2004 (63 652 détenus) avec une hausse annuelle de 3,9 % par rapport aux 59 488 détenus comptabilisés au 1er juillet 2006. L'administration pénitentiaire prévoit 67 000 détenus au printemps 2008, un effectif jamais atteint.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, on the news on France 2 this afternoon, they gave a total figure of something like 46 or 48 thousand...