France to build 16,000 new jail cells by 2025

Paris, Sep 20 (IANS) French Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas on Tuesday announced a plan to build up to 16,000 new jail cells by 2025 to tackle prison overcrowding, media reported.

During a visit to Fresnes jail in Val d’Oise, the French minister unveiled a “precise, concrete and ambitious project” aimed at “ending prison overcrowding and guaranteeing individual cells”, Xinhua news agency reported.

Overcrowded prisons are considered to be a breeding ground for radicalisation and militants being recruited into terrorist groups.

“We cannot wait more. We want to reach 80 per cent of individual cells to be able to respect inmate dignity and also to prevent a swing to fanaticism,” Urvoas said.

He said the plan was to build between 10,300 and 16,143 new cells by 2025 with 3,900 being constructed in 2017 in Ile de France, Toulouse, southern France and the Alpes Provence, Cote d’ Azur region where “needs are urgent and crucial”.

The project will cost 1.1 billion euros (about $1.228 billion), according to the minister.

France has 187 prisons whose occupancy rate stands at 138 per cent.

–IANS

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