Fifty per cent of French citizens say they want prisons to be tougher on inmates as polling trends continue to show a surge in favour of traditionally conservative policies, just days after a separate poll showed 88 per cent supported banning radical Islam.
The new survey, conducted by the Jean-Jaurès Foundation and polling firm Ifop, shows that only 17 per cent of the respondents thought the French prison system was too hard on inmates, Franceinfo reports.
Chloé Morin, director of the Observatoire de l’opinion at the Jean Jaurès Foundation, commented on the results saying: “A large part of the respondents consider that it is not only necessary that the detainees be set apart from the society: it is necessary, moreover, that their daily life is hard.”
Of those surveyed, 49 per cent said that prison should be primarily concerned with depriving inmates of their freedom, compared to only 21 per cent in 2000. Forty-five per cent said prisons’ main focus should be rehabilitation, down from 73 per cent in 2000.
Drugs and access to smuggled mobile phones have also become more common in French prisons. More than half of respondents said they believed both drugs and mobile phones were easily available to inmates.
In several cases, mobile phones have been used by radical Islamic extremists, including a pair in Fresnes prison who were able to communicate with Islamic State contacts from their cells. An investigation revealed the extremists were plotting a terror attack to be carried out upon their release.
The radicalisation of prisoners has also become a major issue in French prisons. According to the survey, 53 per cent said they did not believe it was justified for religious representatives to intervene in the prison system.
“No religion is mentioned in particular, but I hypothesise that if we had talked about Islam, there would have been even less support from the population,” Morin said.
French Overwhelmingly Back Deporting Terror Suspects, Banning Radical Islam https://t.co/TgDS0c2mH5
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 2, 2018
The poll follows a trend in France showing the population is increasingly in support of traditionally conservative and populist policies. A poll taken earlier this month showed 88 per cent of French supporting a total ban on the radical Salafist sect of Islam following the Trebes terror attack.
A further 83 per cent said they would support deporting every individual on the country’s terror watch list, also known as the S-File.
Just as the country has seen a surge in support for conservative policies, the popularity of President Emmanuel Macron has continued to wane. According to a poll in March, only 40 per cent of French had a favourable opinion of the president, putting him behind U.S. President Donald Trump.