“What return to normal life can we expect from people who, in prison, were crammed three into 4.40 m2 of living space, for months, and often 22 hours a day, in the middle of rats, cockroaches and bedbugs?” Asks Dominique Simonnot in the foreword to the 2021 activity report of the independent administrative authority.

It thus refers to the surface area of ​​a standard cell of 9 m2, when we remove the influence of sanitary facilities and furniture. And 22 hours a day is the time spent in the cell by an inmate when he enjoys a walk each day.

According to the latest official figures, the occupancy rate of French prisons reached 117% on May 1, even climbing to 138.9% in remand centers where prisoners awaiting trial – presumed innocent – and those sentenced are imprisoned. to short sentences.

Due to this overcrowding, 1,850 prisoners are forced to sleep on mattresses on the floor.

Prison density fell below 100% in 2020, during the health crisis linked to Covid-19, during which detainees had benefited from early releases. But “it did not last. The opportunity to maintain an acceptable population of remand prisons was missed”, laments the report.

But “overcrowding vitiates absolutely everything: relations between prisoners, those between guards and prisoners; access to care, to work, to training and even to showers or walks is prevented. For lack of time, lack of doctors, supervisors, teachers”, believes Dominique Simonnot.

Also the former journalist, who succeeded Adeline Hazan in October 2020, reaffirms the need to “develop” alternative sentences to prison, “binding, supervised and above all geared towards reintegration”.

– “Prison regulation” –

As for many years, the CGLPL also recommends “the inclusion in the law of prison regulation”, each entry into the cell must be “compensated by the exit – under control – of another closest to the end of his sentence “.

During the year 2021, its services visited 29 prison establishments. Two of these visits, those to the Bédenac detention center (Charente-Maritime) and the Toulouse-Seysses prison center (Haute-Garonne), gave rise to “the finding of serious violations of the fundamental rights of detainees” and the publication of urgent recommendations.

The CGLPL is responsible for defending fundamental rights in prisons, but also in psychiatric hospitals, administrative detention centers, closed educational centers and police custody facilities.

With regard to psychiatric hospitals, it deplores the fact that the obligation to notify the judge of freedoms and detention of any measure of isolation and restraint so that he can check the merits thereof, “continues to be disputed there” at the within the medical profession, because of the “surplus of formalities that it generates”.

“Certainly, but (…) it is beneficial that care without consent (…) does not remain solely a choice of the medical profession and is subject to the examination of impartial judges”, observes Dominique Simonnot, while acknowledging the “crisis of means” and “the exhaustion of professionals” in this sector.

The “imprisoned children and adolescents” are “another subject of severe concern” of the CGLPL, which points in particular to an absence of “overall vision of their overall course” and an insufficiency of the hours of teaching which are delivered to them.

As in the previous year, the report also regrets the lack of consideration by the government of the recommendations of past years.

He believes that the recommendations should be “the subject of action plans decided and controlled by the ministers”. In the same way, the government should “implement any useful measure so that the good practices mentioned in the visit reports are known and imitated by comparable establishments”.