Reintegration of detainees: a fragile system with many left behind

Traveling to the prison of Melun, on September 1, the Minister of Justice Éric Dupond-Moretti assured that he wanted to remove the “reluctance” of companies in the face of work in prison. He expressed the wish that one prisoner out of two has a job, against only a third currently. “There is some reluctance (…) There are people who do not want to employ former detainees or detainees, we hear that. But we’re changing the paradigm“, affirmed the minister while visiting the detention center of Seine-et-Marne. On the occasion of an integration workshop organized by the J2C association, “Second chance justice”former prisoners told us about their difficulties.

Joseph and William, 35, have been able to work in prison but have not found jobs since their release

Joseph is 35 years old, he was released from prison 4 months ago. During his incarceration in Val de Reuil in the Eure, he was able to work in the general service of the detention center as a cook. Currently on probation, a period of probation under the control of the prison administration, he is looking for a new position in the catering industry. For the moment, despite training in this field, he cannot find a new job: “So far when I submit CVs to companies, they don’t call me” he says, “However, I respect the appointment times“. At his side, William nods his head in approval. He left his cell 18 months ago and since then has been accumulating difficulties.

William: “It was a positive point to work in prison but since my release without accommodation, it’s difficult to find a job”

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Henry, 65, hasn’t been ‘graded’ at work during his prison term and is worried about ‘this blank’ growing in his CV

Henry listens intently. He is older and has not worked enough to retire. Released in December 2021, he still has care obligations and must justify his job search. He does voluntary work but has not had any salaried activity for five years. He regrets not having been able to work in prison because “priority is given to young people and short sentences” he explains. He comes to get help from the “Justice deux chance” association to share his difficulties with others and find valuable support:

Henry: “I was looking before, I’m still looking since I left. I’m afraid it’s in vain”

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Each profile is different for Sullivan Crochemore, project manager for the J2C association. “It takes an average of six months to remove the brakes such as finding accommodation or seeking treatment. Reintegration can take three months or years“, testifies this former employment center adviser who was passionate about the reintegration of prisoners when she worked in an agency near the Rouen remand center.

Create a more harmonious system between the judge, the integration and probation counselors and the integration associations

Former sentence enforcement judge, currently seconded to the National School of Magistracy, Jérôme Pauzat is passionate about this subject of the reintegration of prisoners. With two other magistrates, he published a Manifesto for humane and independent justice. Justice overhaul program (Enrick B Editions). According to him, it is important to “de-ideologize” the debate around prison so that the actors in charge of the reintegration of prisoners can be heard in society in order to create an awakening of citizens and employers on these issues. According to him, a more harmonious system should also be built between the sentencing judge who sets the terms of prison treatment for each convict, the integration and probation advisers who ensure in particular compliance with the obligations imposed on people under hand of justice and associations as second chance justice:

Jérôme Pauzat: “reintegration is the basis of non-recidivism”

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For this year 2021-2022, 82 million euros are dedicated to reintegration, far from the 636 million for the construction of 15,000 additional prison places.

Reintegration of detainees: a fragile system with many left behind