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Sociologie (533)

" Need for and requirements of national monitoring for prisons and jails within a sovereign State "


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" Need for and requirements of national monitoring for prisons and jails within a sovereign State " - Communication présentée au Xth United Nation’s Congress on the Prevention of Crime, Vienne (Autriche), le 15 avril 2000 (atelier coordonné par le Penal Reform International).

For the purposes of a research concerning the relationship between prisons and their social environment, I attended several meetings of these “commissions de surveillance”, in prisons situated both within urban and rural zones.
These commissions are local - there is one for every jail or prison. They are independent. In fact, they are accountable to no one. As far as I was able to ascertain, the practices that were gradually instituted have to a great extend diverted controls from the spirit of the provisions of the code of criminal procedure. My analysis of these practices shows a kind of institutionalisation of the exclusion of civil society rather than its involvement in the control of what goes on inside prisons. Locally elected authorities are mostly interested in the eventual questions of the “ overflow ” of prison outside their walls. For instance, a Mayor asks if it is possible that the police brings the released prisoners to a railway station outside of his city, to be sure that they will not stay in his city after release. The control of imprisonment itself stays the sole responsibility of the judicial authority. Yet, Rod Morgan’s conclusions with regard to his experience within the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman and Degrading Treatment (CPT) showed how limited this was.

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