Culture is future » Financing and economic models

07.10.2013

Culture behind bars

What does the future hold for culture in prison with the 2013 budget?

Culture makes it way everywhere. Even still, it could use some support. For the past three decades, people in the hands of justice have access to cultural activities such as live performing, music, dance, visual and audiovisual arts, and so on. These activities are conveyed through workshops presented by external professionals, concerts, representations and expositions. Such cultural democratisation process is for the most part provided by the 103 prison integration and probation departments in France.

In 1985, the Rencontres internationales de Reims meeting made official the surfacing question of culture in prison, and initiated the agreement procedures between the Culture and Communication Ministry and the Ministry of Justice which occurred in 1986 and 1990. This partnership aims at facilitating the integration of inmates, develop cultural actions in the prison environment, and highlight the people sustaining these efforts. From then on, local cultural structures and penal institutions are engaged with each other thanks to a common policy.

The budget allocated to the Ministry of Justice in 2013 increased by 4.3%, for a total budget of 7.7 billion euros. This raise allowed for the creation of 500 positions including 205 for the legal protection of youth and minors. However, cultural activities are halved or even shut down in penal institutions, being considered low-priority. Such decisions widen the gap as far as accessibility to culture is concerned, and have an impact on the inmates’ prison life. Yet, these cultural plans are the key to the inmates’ social rehabilitation.

Camille Desmé