France: Psychiatry at the service of security

25 years of psychiatric service in prison: a look at the situation.

Cyrille Canetti is a psychiatrist. Between 1996 and 2021, he provided professional assistance to individuals in various prisons in the Île-de-France region. For two years (2014-2016), he was employed at the Contrôleur General des lieux de privation de liberté. In the spring of 2021, he quit the Regional Medical and Psychological Services (Service médicopsychologique régional, SMPR) of La Santé Prison. He explained his decision: “As my unit head did not wish to keep me as the head of my department, I bowed out while the door was still open. After a period of resentment, I took a step back and asked myself how I held out for so long in an environment fraught with violence and absurdity.”

Cyrille Canetti has since become a consultant for released prisoners at Saint Anne’s Hospital in Paris. Prison Insider conducted this (critical) interview on psychiatry and prison.

The development of prison healthcare has only turned the prison into a sick house.

“Persons are not criminally liable if, when the act was committed, they were suffering from a psychological or neuropsychological disorder which destroyed their discernment or ability to control their actions.Persons who, at the time they committed the act, was suffering from psychological or neuropsychological disorder which reduced their discernment or impeded their ability to control their actions, remain punishable; however, the court shall take this into account when it decides the penalty and determines its regime.”

Read in French

Part of psychiatry has put itself at the service of a society that is increasingly desperate for security. It is focused on making people compliant rather than providing them relief.