Special Envoy

on France 2, this Thursday, the report

Prison: lives behind bars

is broadcast .

This 52-minute documentary by Étienne Huver and Marina Ladous plunges the viewer into the prison world of the Villepinte remand center in Seine-Saint-Denis.

The production shows the painful daily life of the guards, almost constantly understaffed in the face of an overcrowded prison, but also the hard life of the defendants.

The report also makes it possible to attend an evaluation meeting, a real plunge into the information networks available to the management of a remand center to fight against the rise of extremism.

Marina Ladous, who previously directed

Terrorist threat: diving into the heart of our prisons

, explains to

20 Minutes

how with Étienne Huver, they presented themselves to prisoners and the specificity of the Respecto building in Villepinte.

You took great care to anonymize the staff.

What precautions have you taken for yourself?


We arrived in a process of truth with the defendants.

We thought it was normal to play this card.

We take precautions with the staff because they are there every day.

They are the ones who risk reprisals.

We are just visitors.

You attended an “assessment meeting”.

How is this hunt for extremes organised?

It's mostly profiling.

We bring together in a room guards, prison advisers, psychologists whose mission is to keep an eye on prisoners who are implicated or imprisoned for faults of radicalization, whether Islamization, extreme right or far left.

Some inmates are assessed every three months, others every two months, and so on.

A 2009 law imposes solitary confinement in a remand center.

Does the penitentiary world believe in the application one day of this law when the problem of prison overcrowding is rampant?

In fact, today, we cannot apply it.

In remand prisons, many prisoners are temporarily detained, awaiting trial.

When we know that, we are no longer surprised at the overcrowding in prisons.

In Villepinte, there are 582 spaces.

Most of the time, it is filled to 180% of its workforce.

Even if there are expansion projects, the French prison system remains very limited.

The guards who spend their time juggling between prisoners and cells do not really believe in it.

In the documentary, we see that the prisoners sometimes manage to introduce prohibited objects in a very ingenious way.

How do Guardians fight this?

Yes they can be very inventive.

The idiot prisoner is really a received idea.

On the other hand, introducing hardware can sometimes be dangerous.

Naturally, blades come to mind, but even a phone can be risky.

If most of the time it is to communicate with his family without paying or being listened to, sometimes prisoners use it to threaten victims.

That's why cell searches are so important.

Our Prison file

In the Villepinte prison, there is this Respecto building where the prisoners have a job, are paid, and have with them, during the day, the key to their cell.

Did you feel a difference between these prisoners and their fellow prisoners?

Sure !

There is much less tension in Respecto.

On the other hand, it is also very guarded and at the slightest misstep, we go back to detention.

We make the inmates responsible, we have to be calm and respect the schedules.

When you're at Respecto, you have a job, you start to become someone again.

I think it's an excellent path to reintegration.


Justice: Why the principle of prison regulation does not work in prisons


Prisons: "The conditions of detention have again become appalling in France", denounces the controller Dominique Simonnot

  • Jail

  • Villepinte

  • Violence

  • Supervisors

  • Inmates

  • Ile-de-France

  • Company

  • Paris