15th October 2003
France’s first unité de vie familiale, or “family ties unit,” officially opened on September 26, 2003, at the women’s maximum security prison in Rennes . The unit, which consists of three 50- square-meter apartments with two separate bedrooms and a living room, allows women detainees to spend up to 72 hours with their partner and/or children. In addition to allowing for the strengthening of family ties, the initiative aims to foster a sense of responsibility among participating detainees, who are in charge of receiving visitors and meal-planning. Justice Minister Dominique Perben supports the initiative and has cited the experience of similar units in Spain as evidence that this kind of unit reduces tension and violence in prisons.
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