I sentence you to five years of growing leeks … in my new little prison village …

Some time next year (2012) France’s first prison village will open. It will be the first of its kind in the world. So far no one has said where exactly in France this prison village will be, but President Sarkozy has given the green light for its construction. Apparently. The village is the brainchild of […]

Some time next year (2012) France’s first prison village will open. It will be the first of its kind in the world.

So far no one has said where exactly in France this prison village will be, but President Sarkozy has given the green light for its construction. Apparently.

The village is the brainchild of former inmate Pierre Botton.

Mr. Botton did twenty months in prison in the 1990s for fraud in what is known as the Noir-Botton Case.

Noir – Michel Noir, then tall, dark and handsome, was the rightwing Mayor of France’s second largest city, Lyon (Lyons) and a former government minister. Pierre Botton, his son-in-law, was an entrepreneur who set up and supplied pharmacies. Monsieur Noir had presidential aspirations and Monsieur Botton took it upon himself to promote Monsieur Noir. Monsieur Botton’s modus operandi was to generously entertain media and showbiz celebrities and some politicians as well, for them to push Monsieur Noir into the limelight. What Monsieur Botton was doing was according to France’s laws highly illegal, especially as the recipients had not declared to the tax man his generosity – gifts of airline tickets, vacations, dinners in very expensive restaurants etc. So Monsieur Botton had gone to jail where, deeply depressed at how terrible prison life was, he had contemplated suicide. The career of Monsieur Noir, now 67, lay in ruins.

Monsieur Botton, now 56,  has since his release taken it upon his shoulders to fight for France’s prisons to be modernized. Not only modernized but humanized as well.

Thus the village prison.

If the prototype is to be adhered to then each inmate will have his own chalet of 11.5 sq meters (118 sq ft) with bathroom, toilet, kitchen and TV set. There will be 120 chalets in the first of the villages.

As Monsieur Botton pointed out in a press conference in Lyon this week, the inmates will work full time and they will receive a salary which will be the SMIC (Salaire minimum interprofessionnel de croissance) – minimum salary – of €1365 ($1949 / £1199) net monthly for 1151.67 hours of work. May I just say that this is more than a pensioner receives from the state who has worked a full 40.5 years.

What work will the inmates do?

They will farm and manufacture things like furniture and electrical appliances. And they will run a supermarket which will be in the prison village complex and where they will shop and — where we will too, because it will be an ordinary supermarket.

Monsieur Botton has already interested several big businesses in his scheme. These are: the supermarket giant Carrefour, the electrical giant Schneider Electric, the media group Lagardère, frozen food giant Toupargel and the TV network M6. Here I would also just like to say that Carrefour’s staff members have been striking regularly these past few months for higher pay and better working conditions.

The question is: Would you like to have living next-door to you, or down the road or across the street from you, rapists, child molesters and the odd murderer or two? No, you wouldn’t.  But rest assured, according to Monsieur Botton’s plan, no one who has committed a sex crime or who has murdered would be allowed to live in one of these prison villages. Only petty criminals who are serving no more than five years would be allowed to take up residence in his villages. And they will all be under 35 years of age. (Maybe therefore not yet hardened criminals?)

Who will make sure that the inmates do their time?

Monsieur Botton has got that worked out too. Each new arrival will be received by men from the army who would help the inmate settle down and who would for the next eleven weeks teach him the civilities of life. If after the eleven weeks an inmate might still be lacking  manners, there will be guards to deal with that.

I will allow Monsieur Botton the last word. As he said at a press conference: “Today, prison can happen to anyone. With our new law about driving when under the influence, you can find yourself in prison after having celebrated one Friday night.”

Yes, I will allow him the last word. Because what is there to say?

 

 

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

One Response to “I sentence you to five years of growing leeks … in my new little prison village …”

  1. 1
    Derek Says:

    Will it be 5-star?

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