At Draguignan prison, life projects are taking shape behind bars

«Cis positive, constructive! And that’s a first!”. Tuesday afternoon, Claire Doucet, director of the Draguignan remand center did not hide her satisfaction.

For the first time, the penitentiary established within its walls a forum dedicated to employment and integration.

A first for the remand center, but also a national first, as part of the Pôle emploi scheme “Place de l’emploi et de la formation”(1).

“Mission accomplished!”

Initially scheduled for November 2020, the event had to be postponed several times, for known health reasons. It took several months of organization for the Pôle emploi Draguignan teams for the forum to finally see the light of day.

Because obviously, in a prison environment, such an implementation entails its share of logistical problems.

“We have gradually lifted all the obstacles: bring in computer equipment, establish a specific network, find a reception area, etc.”

But Christine Blondet, head of the Dracénoise agency could shout it proudly on Tuesday: “Mission accomplished!”.

Inside the gymnasium requisitioned for the occasion, the prisoners are numerous to navigate around several dedicated poles.

“With this forum, the idea is to meet prisoners, whatever their sentence. We are there to give them information, both in terms of recruitment, advice, and integration”emphasizes Sandrine Quantin, Pôle Emploi team leader.

Advice on business creation with Adie, right to social assistance with Caf; recruitment information and advice with companies such as Pizzorno or Decathlon; presentation of nearly 200 professions, in 360-degree immersion, with the help of short films projected in virtual helmets…: enough to prepare seriously for the future.

“We no longer feel isolated”

Outside the prison, Christophe was a landscape designer. He put on a virtual helmet for an immersion in the agricultural trades.

“I had a good overall idea of ​​the sector, it made me want to go deeper into things”, he rejoices. Further on, Louis inquired about the professions offered by the Pizzorno group.

“We discussed their needs and my skills.”

And to continue:I lost everything with my incarceration. My job, my accommodation, and so on. With this forum, we feel taken in hand. It gave me a realboost” to prepare for my future. I have the feeling of being valued… Human, quite simply… It’s a bit as if outside life came to us, inside these walls. We may be locked up there, we no longer feel isolated. It really makes you want to get involved.”

Suffice to say that with this kind of feedback, the initial objective is achieved.

1. Forums dedicated to employment in the prison environment have already been organized at national level, but never within the framework of the “Place de l’emploi et de la formation” scheme.

“We didn’t expect so many participants…!”

On the side of Maryline Arlaut, Pôle emploi justice adviser, we are also satisfied with the turn of things.

Even if according to her, too few private companies responded to the call.

“Out of a dozen contacted, only two agreed to participate. However, I believe that these companies have a social responsibility in terms of integration”she regrets.

Avoid recurrence

Still, the inmates played the game.

“We see that there are real exchanges. Many are curious: I applaud them. Because you have to realize that being locked up is a shock. Some prisoners can let go easily, lock themselves in on themselves. I find it great to see them friendly, motivated to try to build a life project…”

“It’s important to feel valued, insists Marilyne Arlaut. Especially since for most of them, they have experienced life paths where they have never been valued. If they had been, they probably wouldn’t be behind these walls… This forum is also about trying to make sure they get out of it, avoid repeat offenses.”

On the side of the Decathlon sign, the story is the same as for the investment of the prisoners.

“We have good exchanges. We feel they are motivated and involved, detail Quentin and Fabien, representatives of the transian store. It is not because these people are in detention that they should be excluded from society. It is not because they are incarcerated that we should close the doors to hiring them. As long as skills and motivation are there, ours are open. We don’t care what mistakes they may have made in the past. We are looking for motivated profiles. And there are.”