Macron's remedy for overcrowded prisons

French President Emmanuel Macron presented his plans for a criminal law reform on Tuesday. The main aim is to resolve the problem of France's overcrowded prisons. He proposes punishing minor offences with fines rather than prison sentences and increased use of electronic ankle bracelets. Prison sentences of longer than a year, however, could no longer be shortened. Are Macron's reform plans headed in the right direction?

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Le Monde (FR) / 07 March 2018

What's needed now is persuasiveness

This is a necessary reform that now requires persuasiveness, Le Monde comments:

“Macron is attempting a major detox to cure France of its dependence on criminal punishment. .. The humanist vision the president has set out for the judiciary is indisputably ambitious - and courageous. He speaks of freeing several thousands of people who from an objective point of view should not be behind bars. The task at hand now is to convince both the judicial institutions, who complain that they weren't involved in the discussion, and the public sphere, much of which sees imprisonment as a solution for all security issues without really thinking about whether it's effective.”

Mediapart (FR) / 07 March 2018

Prisons will remain overcrowded

Mediapart, however, has doubts about the effectiveness of Macron's reform plans:

“Prison sentences of more than a year will be served in prison and can no longer be suspended or lessened. This risks filling cells that have been emptied by other measures, and runs counter to the principle according to which jail terms are only handed out as a last resort. Hence the threshold of one year for prison sentences will become a sort of dividing line. The decision to apply it or not will fall directly to the judges whose job it is to implement these new rules. The problem, however, is that while it may be clearer to the public, the measure leaves less room to manoeuvre for the professionals.”

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