Prison Insider's editorials

Do you dare? - Open letter to Mr. Macron

Do you dare?

Mr. Emmanuel Macron, as a French presidential candidate, you were not on the side of those who promised a world with fewer prisons: you have promised instead to create 15,000 new places in prison during your five-year term that seem to you to be missing.

Mr. Macron, as a French presidential candidate, you were not on the side of those who promised sustained focus on the social poverty and inequalities that shape the fate of all petty criminals when you maintained that you would like to abolish “the principle of alternative sentencing for sentences of less than two years” (which, in quotation marks, has never existed).

Mr. Macron, as a French presidential candidate, you announced that you wanted to “create a democracy that will allow the pluralism and democratic vitality that have emerged from this campaign to be expressed.” You have gone as far as stating that, “citizens’ movements, NGOs, and community organisations could be represented and could take part in political decisions in a more substantial way.” You have stated that you would like to rely on the expertise of consultants.

We take note of your asserted pragmatism, which breaks with the dogmatic and ideological positions that guide every speech and, more seriously, every decision concerning prisons in France.

Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of France, if you listen to citizens’ movements, NGOs, community organisations, and researchers, you will hear about alternatives to imprisonment that reduce costs and contribute to reducing recidivism.

If you look to the Nordic countries you will see the Europe we want, where less imprisonment means increased security.

The justice project that we ask you to defend is one of a forward-looking France abandoning short-sighted parochialism and the large-scale imprisonment that we see in so many countries.

To participate in the global effort to reduce the number of prisoners around the world, each country must play its part. We ask that you lead the way in Europe by encouraging the creation of a movement to reduce the number of prisons and by engaging civil society to defend this movement.

Pragmatically speaking, Mr. Macron, let’s together create the conditions that will allow pluralism and democratic vitality to be expressed. Prison, it works (very) badly, but prevention works. Do you really want to be pragmatic? Do you dare?

Bernard Bolze
Director of Prison Insider

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