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Séparer et punir. Les prisons françaises : mise à distance et punition par l'espace

Abstract : This Ph.D. thesis envisions a prison sentence as a geographical punishment – inmates are kept at a distance from their relatives and are confined to an enclosed area that is also internally subdivided. At the same time, as a spatial apparatus, the prison is also aimed to reintegrate inmates back into their communities as well as maintain family ties. Hence, a tension develops between distance and proximity, discontinuity and continuity. Mapping the French penitentiary system reveals the diverse ways used to keep inmates distanced from society. Despite the fact that most French prisons are located close to populated areas and connected to transportation networks, both inmates and their relatives experience incarceration as a form of exclusion. This effect is magnified at the local scale: local authorities and residents want to keep prisons, their noise and stigma at a distance from the community. Moreover, prison architecture exacerbates the focus on separation: demarcating the inside from the outside and segregating inmates within. It is clear, from 31 interviews with inmates in five different prisons, that prisoners experience this discontinuity between the inside and the outside. Even when inmates are not prevented from moving around within the walls of the prison, there is nowhere they can feel secure, enjoy privacy or have uninhibited interactions with others. Not only are inmates separated from their relatives, but they are also from each other within prison walls. In this way, the prison isolates its inhabitants to a greater extent than it displaces them. Thus, spatial discontinuities play a greater role than issues of distance in such geographies of exclusion.
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Contributor : Olivier Milhaud <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, December 16, 2009 - 10:41:26 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, July 9, 2019 - 10:12:21 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, June 17, 2010 - 8:53:33 PM


  • HAL Id : tel-00441473, version 1


Olivier Milhaud. Séparer et punir. Les prisons françaises : mise à distance et punition par l'espace. Géographie. Université Michel de Montaigne - Bordeaux III, 2009. Français. ⟨tel-00441473⟩



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