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Prison conditions in France

Since 1994, in France the provision of healthcare and organisation of treatment in the correctional environment are the responsibility of the Ministry of Health. All inmates are registered for public health insurance and assigned a beneficiary number accordingly.

French prison health system currently counts 217 structures, divided in 175 healthcare units operated by the staff implemented in each establishment, 8 inter-regional high-security hospital units (UHSI) for inmates requiring hospital care exceeding 48 hours, 1 national public healthcare institution in Fresnes, 26 regional psycho-medical care units (SMPR), 7 specially-outfitted hospital units (UHSA) for patients requiring hospitalisation for psychiatric care, with or without consent.


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On the 1st January 2017, the prison population included a total of 78796 inmates, of which 68432 were convicted. Considering the general capacity of up to 58681 places, French prisons are quite overcrowded.

80% of inmates are French, the other 20% come from different countries, most of them being African or European.

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Most of prisoners are aged between 30 and 40 (26,9%), followed by those from 25 to 30 years old (25,5%). Women represent 3,6% and minors 1,1% of the total prison population.

The main causes of conviction are voluntary violence, violation of legislation on narcotics, rape and sexual assault.

In 2015, 1050 suicide attempts have been committed in prison environment, of which 115 resulting in the death of the inmates.

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