At a time when the fight against domestic violence is displayed as a national priority, here is a very unfortunate affair: in Valence (Drôme), Monday April 26, three men who were to be tried in immediate appearance were released because, due to lack of available personnel, they could not be escorted from prison to court.
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The first defendant was to appear for domestic violence, the second for harassment on his ex-girlfriend and the third for a drug case. They will finally be judged on May 31.
“Since 2017, around thirty defendants released”
This “quack” is not an isolated case and highlights a problem regularly denounced by the magistrates’ unions: that of the difficulties in ensuring judicial extractions. “Since 2017, around thirty defendants have had to be provisionally released for lack of being able to be extracted from their place of detention. Fortunately, for the moment, it has never ended in a drama ”, testifies Cécile Mamelin, vice-president of the Union Syndicale des Magistrates (USM).
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In Valence, the extraction of the three men, arrested during the weekend, should have been ensured by prison staff. But in the morning, the regional branch of the Authority for the regulation and programming of judicial extractions (Arpej), announced that its agents were not available.
“Some were busy doing other extractions and the others were undergoing compulsory training to obtain the renewal of their license to carry weapons”, we specify at the Ministry of Justice. In shortage of manpower, Arpej then turned to the police who, too, could not ensure the extraction. Because … of the Covid which caused a large number of absences within the Valence police station.
Failing to be brought to justice within the legal deadline, the three men were released. As they did not appear in court, they could not be placed under judicial supervision. This may cause some concern among the two women who suffered violence or harassment by the defendants. The Valence prosecutor warned the gendarmeries of the municipalities where these two victims live so that security measures can be implemented. One of these women was also given a “serious danger” phone.
The feeling of slowness of justice reinforced
This problem of extractions has arisen for about ten years. Until 2010, these missions were carried out by the police or gendarmes who, over time, managed to convince the government that they were tasks “Undue” too time-consuming. In 2010, it was therefore decided to gradually transfer the responsibility for extractions to specially trained prison officers.
“But this new mission was set up without the necessary material and above all human resources”, indicates Wilfried Fonck, national secretary Ufap-Unsa Pénitentiaire. As a result, in recent years, more and more magistrates, requesting extractions, have been opposed to “Impossibilities of doing (IDF)” from the prison administration.
In 2019, the USM published a White Paper reporting a very large number of dysfunctions. “In extreme cases, it results in these releases. Otherwise, non-checkouts cause audience referrals. Many investigating judges must also postpone interrogations or confrontations. In the end, all this lengthens the procedures and contributes to reinforcing the feeling of slowness of justice, deplores Cécile Mamelin. In some regions, a few years ago, nearly 25% of extractions were refused. In the last year or two, the situation has improved, although in some places it remains very tense. “
At the Ministry of Justice, it is confirmed that, thanks to efforts in terms of staffing, the number of refused extractions is in sharp decline. “Video-conferencing, which allows certain audiences to be held at a distance, has also developed a lot”, we add. ““ Video ”cannot be a real solution. It is still not possible to judge a man via a camera ”, Cécile Mamelin replies.