Capital city — Paris
Country populationi2021/ INSEE
Incarceration rate (per 100,000 inhabit…
Type of government
Human Development Index
Homicide rate (per 100,000 inhabitants)
Name of authority in charge of the pris…
Total number of prisonersi01/01/2022/ Prison administration
Average length of imprisonment (in mont…
Prison densityi01/01/2022/ Prison administration
Total number of prison facilitiesi2021/ Prison administration
An NPM has been established
Number and percentage of female prisone…i01/01/2022/ Prison administration
Incarcerated minorsi01/2022/ Prison administration
Untried prisonersi01/01/2022/ Prison administration
Death penalty is abolished
Security, order, and discipline
Security, order, and discipline
Security functions are fulfilled by
- the penitentiary administration
- the police or gendarmerie
Some prison facilities, units or cells implement high-security measures
Prisoners are classified according to their supposed level of dangerousness
The procedures for body searches are regulated. The law permits body searches, whether full or partial, when they are justified by the presumption of an offence or by a risk to the safety of other prisoners or the institution posed by an inmate’s behaviour. The Prisons Act of 24 November 2009 authorizes searches on an exceptional basis when other means of control are considered insufficient (rub-down, electronic detection). These principles are not implemented. They are vehemently opposed by some prison guards’ trade unions. Since June 2016, strip searches may be carried out in accordance with general guidelines setting out the places and times when they may occur. They are planned regardless of the criteria related to the prisoner themselves.
Body cavity searches are conducted by a physician
Internal body examinations are banned unless express justification is provided. They must be carried out by a doctor.
Relatives who enter the prison are searched using the following methods
The search conditions of incarcerated individuals and the inspections of their loved ones, required during visits, are problematic for some. Some inmates refuse visits from their loved ones so as to shield them from these procedures.
Professionals who enter the prison are searched using the following methods
Security staff carry
- non-lethal weapons
Security personnel do not carry firearms. The use of a firearm is possible from the watchtower in the event of an escape and is regulated. Each prison has an armoury, reserved for serious and violent incidents.
Taser use was on the rise in prisons. In November 2021, an order was issued to allow prison security teams to use tasers in more scenarios. Prison officers responsible for judicial transfers and releases, or internal and perimeter security were allowed to use this “intermediate” weapon to “respond to physical aggression” or “dangerous or threatening behaviour.” The French section of the International Prison Observatory denounced the inadequate legal protection when it came to taser use.
A special intervention unit is in charge of restoring order
Regional intervention and security teams (ERIS, Equipes régionales d’intervention et de sécurité) assist with re-establishing and maintaining order in the event of collective or individual movements.
The prison service keeps record of incidents
Number of violent acts against prison staff
The number of violent acts against prison staff increased by 5.8% between 2016 and 2017.
Collective movements are recorded
Protest movements are usually aimed at denouncing prison conditions or failings of the institution. Prisoners may protest by refusing to return from the courtyard, refusing meals, or gathering in the workshops. Protests, regardless of the reason, constitute a disciplinary offence and may be referred to the Disciplinary Committee and result in a disciplinary sanction.
Breaches of discipline are clearly defined in writing
The disciplinary system and its proceedings carry certain procedural guarantees, such as the presence of a lawyer and the participation of an assessor on the disciplinary committee who is independent of the administration.
The decision to apply a disciplinary sanction must be subject to an adversarial debate
Prisoners are allowed to be assisted by a lawyer
Prisoners may appeal against disciplinary sanctions
Disciplinary sanctions can be imposed as a collective punishment
Solitary confinement can be used as
Solitary confinement is decided
- a magistrate’s order
- the prison governor
- the request of the detained person
The duration for placement in solitary confinement is limited
Solitary confinement can be extended
The solitary confinement measure is subject to regular review