Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In France, many people are dying in prison; it is talked about very little

In France, many people are dying in prison. It is talked about very little.
With that laconic statement, Le Monde starts a front-page editorial, one which fits straight into the "It's Much Easier to Attack Americans For Their (Alleged) Sins When French Failings Are Overlooked" department.

"Almost every day" in a French jail, we are told, someone dies. Out of 263 deaths officially noted by the penitentiary authorities in 2010, 138 died "of natural causes", 4 were killed, and 121 committed suicide. Of the suicides — most of them young or very young (18 or under), most of them simply in (temporary) custody, and most of them (60%) for misdemeanors and not for crimes — 96% chose hanging as their way out and many (15%) did so within 10 days of being placed behind bars.
"15 novembre, un homme, 49 ans, par suicide. 15 novembre, un homme, 32 ans, par suicide. 16 novembre, un homme, 19 ans, par pendaison. 18 novembre, un homme, 46 ans, par pendaison..." 263 fois, presque tous les jours.

Il s'agissait théoriquement de lire la liste des prénoms, mais on ne les a même pas ; la plupart du temps, on meurt en prison dans la solitude et dans l'anonymat.

For the record, however, a perspicacious Le Monde reader does point out that
At the risk of being labeled a fascist, prison is not supposed to be a Disneyland experience.