Villeneuve-les-Maguelone (Hérault), March 26. Prisoners and prison guards have been infected with the coronavirus. - Pascal GUYOT / AFP

  • A 55-year-old prison supervisor from Orléans-Saran prison has died of coronavirus, according to concordant sources.
  • As of March 31, 303 positive cases had been identified among staff and detained in French prisons. And 2,469 symptomatic cases.
  • To avoid spread, the Chancellery agreed to facilitate early releases from which 5,000 detainees benefited in March.

The fears were well-founded ... The prison supervisor of the Orléans-Saran penitentiary center (Loiret) who died on the night of March 25 to 26 died from the consequences of the coronavirus, learned 20 Minutes this Wednesday from concordant sources. This was revealed by the investigation opened by the prosecution after the discovery of the body of this 55-year-old man who had been on sick leave for a week due to a feverish state.

Up to now, the prison administration had only deplored the death of a prisoner, a 74-year-old man, imprisoned in Fresnes (Val-de-Marne). But prison staff and prisoners fear that the situation will worsen rapidly in the coming days. " It is complicated. We did receive surgical masks. But the cells are small, confesses a supervisor of the prison of Health (Paris, 14th). We do as we can. We try to keep our distance ... ”

According to our information, at the last assessment carried out by the prison administration on Tuesday evening, 1,819 symptomatic cases and 269 positive cases were identified among the staff. In addition, 650 symptomatic cases and 34 confirmed cases among prisoners.

“It's under tension. Like a catch ”

In Health, as in the 187 other penitentiary establishments, measures have been taken to isolate suspected and proven cases as much as possible. But here even more than elsewhere: impossible to push the walls. After being reluctant at first, Nicole Belloubet, the Keeper of the Seals, ended up agreeing to sign orders facilitating the release of certain prisoners at the end of their sentence.

#coronavirus: On 17/03, Nicole #Belloubet said in @ 20Minutes that he was not at all "in the perspective" of releasing prisoners because of the Covid-19. Tomorrow, she will present orders allowing the release of approximately 5,000 of them ... https: //

- Vincent Vantighem (@vvantighem) March 24, 2020

Between March 1 and March 30, 4,951 prisoners were released thanks to this measure, increasing the prison population from 72,422 to 67,471 prisoners. It is still too much: the overcrowding has decreased but it still reaches 110% on all establishments. "There is a dirty atmosphere," says Anthony, 25, a detainee who benefited from an early release from Nanterre prison (Hauts-de-Seine). People are freaking out. It's under tension. Like a catch. "

Cannabis resin shortage straining inmates

And it is not so much the suspension of family visiting rooms due to the health situation that creates nervousness. "Rather, it is the lack of resources that we have," explains a supervisor of the Health prison. The inmates are like us. They see that we have few masks, that the doors are not disinfected, that the colleagues who return from confinement are not tested ... So, they are afraid. They don't want us to approach. "

In addition to this concern, there is also a shortage of cannabis resin, which is used to entering prisons via visiting rooms that are now closed. “Some are tense because of this. Others fail to pay their debts, "said the prison superintendent, who described a situation on the verge of exploding. So much so that, according to him, many staff confess their will to stop coming to work, even if they cannot legally invoke the right of withdrawal. "What will happen is that sick leave will multiply ..."

Our file on the coronavirus

As for the Chancellery, it only indicates that the pace of early releases will continue in order to relieve the establishments. And that no other draft ordinance on the situation is on the agenda today. Inmate support associations did not believe it anyway. They seized the Council of State so that it summons the government to accelerate the release of prisoners in view of the health situation. The hearing will take place urgently on Friday.

In the OIP call log #prison # COVID19

- OIP (@OIP_sectionfr) April 1, 2020


Coronavirus: "We will distribute 100,000 masks in prison", announces Nicole Belloubet


Coronavirus: How Nicole Belloubet changed doctrine on the release of detainees

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