Nantes (France): Why are we occupying the construction site of a prison?

February 20th, 2006

A group of several dozen people is currently occupying the trees which are on the future site of the E.P.M. (a prison for minors) d'Orvault, near to the city of Nantes (France), in an attempt to stop the construction. We want to show our opposition in a determined manner to the state and economic violence which is destroying our lives: imprisonment, misery, ghettoisation, the politics of "security", racism, wage labour...

From prisons for minors to zero-tolerance politics
The French government is planning the construction of 7 prisons for minors of 13 to 18 years old between now and end of the year. This would mean 420 new prison places which would be in addition to the 850 that already exist in the youth wings of regular prisons.The other planned youth prisons in France will be located close to Valenciennes, Meaux, Lyon, Mantes-la-Jolie, Toulouse and Marseille.

Several other measures indicate the general reinforcement of security culture:
- An increase in incarceration: +45% between 1990 and 2002 for minors and 1320 new places for adults.
- The creation of "immediate placement centres" and "reenforced centres of education" to be followed by "closed centres of education". These centres are based on increasingly stricter discipline to the detriment of educational practice (given that education can also mean the normalisation of individuals - making them fit in).
- Changes to the role of the social services which become more like the police, for example: the obligation on youthworkers to pass on files to the police, pressure on familiessuch as the suspension of benefits and criminal responsability for the parents of "delinquents".
- The development of new technologies to create further tools of control: video-surveillence(even in schools), biometrics, electronic tagging, DNA databases, etc. Everything necessary for a permanent state of control.
- The creation of new crimes, for example the penalisation of everyday acts such as gathering around the stairways of buildings, not paying for public transport and even the putting in place of curfews.
- A stronger and more agressive police presence, especially with the "anti-criminality brigades", with their new hi-tech weapons, street controls based on how you look, constant harrassment, violent abuse and "accidents" concealed or covered up by the establishement.

The subject of deviance and how to deal with it should be brought into question. The state puts the responsibility on individuals and punishes them. But it is the social, interpersonal and economic relations which create a person, and it is these conditions which we want to question. How can we think about solving problems by imprisoning, destroying or torturing certain individuals? This is a circular logic which perpetuates violence and feeds its growth. Prisons systemise punishment, they exist to create fear and preserve the existing order. It is a torture which, despite all the talk about reform and modernisation, remains essentially degrading and humiliating.

It is necessary to change social and economic conditions and the way people relate to each other instead of punishing individuals. Not to talk about conforming to existing norms, but about changing society. Where domination reigns, we prefer to construct other types of relations between individuals, for example to attack the submission and violence that result from the patriarchal system, and fight against homophobia and sexism.

The logic of capital creates a popular image of "being sucessful": the possession of material goods is the necessary condition to enter into the category of "someone worthwhile". This logic transforms into delinquents those who cannot participate in such consumerism.

That which falls under the concept of delinquence can be sometimes a way of surviving (the inevitable parallel economies which are methods of dealing with injustice and poverty: dealing, shoplifting, robberies...). Sometimes they can be violent acts against other persons (fights, mugging, rapes) which clearly cause suffering, but they can't be stopped by psycholgically destroying the "guilty", not while society is structured along lines of competition, authoritarianism and machismo.

"Delinquency" is often just the manifestation of anger and opposition to the established order. Many convictions are the direct result of police violence and harrassment, as reactions of self-defence or protection become turned around by the courts into actions of "outrage and rebelllion".

For example, the riots of last october-november were significant about poverty, racism, State control and humiliation in the french suburbs... We should support every rioter instead of judging them, like the State-Republic does...

In many towns, collectives have been formed to oppose the construction and very existance of prisons. In Nantes, around the question of minors, there already exists a collective against the EPM which has organised information campaigns and a demonstration to the site. To complement this, it seems necessary to us to use direct action in our struggles against incarceration. To squat the future work site is a concrete action to hinder the start of work. Occupying the trees means putting ourselves in the way of the machines and forces the State into a costly eviction process. With these offensive types of action, we want to make a show of force against the State.

So come and support or participate in this action, discuss, pick up some information (texts, newspapers, posters). Just come to the site!


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