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French prison population at record high

PARIS, March 17 (AFP) – France’s prison population has reached an all-time high, as the center-right government pursues the fight on crime launched when it took office two years ago, the country’s prison authority said Wednesday.

On March 1, French jails housed 61,032 inmates, putting the occupancy rate at 26 percent above capacity.

The previous record of 60,963 dated back to July 1 last year, when the 60,000 mark was surpassed for the first time since France’s liberation from Nazi occupation in 1944.

Since his re-election in May 2002, President Jacques Chirac has made the fight against crime one of his top priorities, with tough-talking Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy the point man on the issue.

In January, the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee (CPT) criticized overpopulation in French jails, saying it could lead to conditions that suggested “inhuman and degrading treatment”.

In response to the prison bed shortage, the government is planning to build new facilities that would add 13,200 places for inmates.


                                                              Subject: France news