France exceeds record number of prisoners

French Minister admits
Photo by Anthony Choren/

France has more prisoners than ever. This is according to official statistics that show that French prisons currently house 72,809 prisoners, but only have capacity for 60,698. 

Data published by the Ministry of Justice demonstrated that there is currently a prison density of 120%, which is an increase from 115.4% in the statistics published last year. The previous record had been set prior to the coronavirus pandemic, in March 2020, when there were 72,575 detainees. However, with the arrival of the pandemic, there was a drop in the number of the prisoners. 

Yet in just a couple of years, the number has once again risen and has surpassed the record, with a 4.3% increase (2,997 prisoners) compared to October 1, 2021. This increase has created issues for the authorities given that France does not have enough prison space. This situation has meant that there is serious overcrowding, with 2,225 prisoners forced to sleep on a mattress on the floor. 

A report in Le Figaro showed that of all prisoners in France, 3.5% are women, and 0.8% are minors. In fact, more than a quarter (26.9%) of those currently detained are defendants. This means they are awaiting trial and are therefore presumed innocent. 

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