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Protests hit French prisons over violence, overcrowding

January 15, 2018

Penitentiary staff demonstrate outside the prison in Vendin le Vieil, northern France, Monday Jan.15, 2018. Penitentiary staff block several prisons in France after an attack by an inmate against several people at the high-security prison of Vendin le Vieil on Thursday Jan.11 2018 in northern France. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

PARIS (AP) — President Emmanuel Macron has ordered an overhaul of France’s overcrowded penitentiary system, as prison staff burned tires and set barricades in protests over violent working conditions.

Long-running complaints by prison guards erupted into protests Monday at prisons around France, after a knife-wielding inmate reportedly tried to attack several people last week at the high-security Vendin-le-Vieil prison in northern France.

The director of Vendin-le-Vieil reportedly submitted his resignation Monday under pressure from prison staff, who accuse him of not doing enough to prevent such violence.

Macron said Monday he ordered his government to come up with a “global penitentiary plan” by the end of February that would modernize facilities and prison intelligence-gathering. He also suggested a “massive” shift to alternative punishment such as obligatory public service or electronic bracelets.

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