France Prison Population Reaches All-time High

A prison guard stands at the door of an inmate's cell at the Fleury-Merogis prison some 30 kms south of Paris on March 31, 2022. Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

Paris, France -- A record number of inmates were serving time in France at the start of this month, official data showed Friday, as the country battles serious prison overcrowding.

France counted 73,080 inmates in prisons equipped to hold just 60,899 people on April 1, according to figures released by the justice ministry.

That meant the country's jails were at 120 percent capacity, it showed.

Prune Missoffe, of the France-based International Prison Observatory rights monitor, said the situation was "only getting worse, month by month".

The government should "take measures to decrease the pressure on prisons until more structural measures are found", she said.

The European Court of Human Rights in early 2020 ordered France to pay thousands of euros in damages to dozens of inmates after ruling that authorities had not taken sufficient measures to end prison overcrowding.

France is hoping to make room for 15,000 more inmates by the end of President Emmanuel Macron's second term in office in 2027.

But the court auditing public finances found in a recent report that implementation was lagging behind schedule.

The government had not even built enough new cells to reach the target of 7,000 extra spots in prisons by the end of last year, it said.

© Agence France-Presse

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