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Topic1: What is the Problem?France has broken its own record of prison overcrowdingas security intensifies across the country in response to recent terrorattacks. Conditions at Fresnes, in the Val de Marne region east of the capital,are “inhuman or degrading” according to the European Court of HumanRights criteria.

The prison holds twice as many inmates as it can hold. Thesituation has deteriorated since their last visit two years ago, while theprison’s population has soared 52 percent in the last 10 years to 3,000.Meanwhile there is shortage or management and supervisory staff and anestimated 70 percent of wardens are trainees. There is overpopulation ofinmates, visiting rooms are small and dirty, toilets lack privacy and hygieneis deplorable, rats infest the prison courtyard, and have also invaded parts ofthe building, their urine leaking through artificial ceilings in the cells,and violent incidents between prisoners are frequent. Many inmantes, men and women are withpyscological disabilities are at risk of suicide or harming themselves.

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When theircondition deteriorates  prisonerswith psychosocial disabilities are in some cases transferred to psychiatrichospitals against their will Topic2: How does the problem affect the country?Suicide rates in French prisons are higher thanin the general population – seven times as high. “It’s shameful for acountry like France to keep people with mental health conditions locked up formonths or years in prisons without adequate access to mental health care,” said Izza Leghtas, Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. Returnto the prison environment – without adequate support or appropriateaccommodations – can lead to a recurrence of mental health conditions andre-hospitalization, sometimes ensnaring prisoners in an endless cycle ofhospitalization, discharge, deterioration, and re-hospitalization.

Such a cycleis both harmful to the patient’s health and disruptive and costly to the prisonand the hospital involved. The economic crisis has had no impacton the annual budget of the prison administration. However, most of theadditional funds were allocated to increase the prison estate rather than rehabilitationintiavtives. The number of prisoners employed in the industrial sector hasdecreased by 9%. s.

Prisoners and their families are also affected by thecrisis. Beyond these issues, the impact of the crisis is felt at the politicallevel. The Government highlights the context of fiscal restraint to turn downany proposal to improve conditions of detention or to take into account therelatives of prisoners (strengthening social protection of detainees, financialsupport to families to enable them to cope with the expenses, increasedtraining etc.).

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