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The french prison system aberration

An analysis of the French prison system's ebullience since 2001 shows that to use incarceration as a social vacuum cleaner in order to rid society of the dregs resulting from the economic transformations of neoliberalism is in fact an aberration. Not only do French crimes rates fail to justify the boom in the country's prison population, but comparative criminology confirms that there is no correlation between the incarceration rate and the crime rate. Automatic recourse to confinement in order to quash urban disorder is a remedy that nearly always aggravates the ill it is supposed to cure. It reinforces economic marginalization, social alienation, and the convicts' feeling of injustice, since prisons disproportionately affect the economically and culturally most vulnerable social categories. It is unrealistic to treat misdemeanors with such a gross and ineffective instrument as imprisonment, and it is urgent to reconnect the discussion on delinquency to the broad social issue of this century that this discussion conceals: the emergence of de-socialized wage-earners, the social insecurity vector, and material and mental deterioration.

France; prison system; crime

Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Políticos (IESP) da Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) R. da Matriz, 82, Botafogo, 22260-100 Rio de Janeiro RJ Brazil, Tel. (55 21) 2266-8300, Fax: (55 21) 2266-8345 - Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Brazil