Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

France: Security Measure Against Violent Offenders

(Apr. 2, 2008) A French law of February 25, 2008, provides, in exceptional cases, for keeping certain categories of violent offenders in specialized detention centers after the offenders have served their sentences if they are still deemed to pose a public threat and there is a high probability that they will relapse. The law applies to violent offenders sentenced to at least 15 years of imprisonment for the following crimes committed against a minor: premeditated murder, murder, torture or barbaric acts, rape, and kidnapping or unlawful restraint. It also applies to the following crimes committed against an adult: premeditated murder, aggravated murder, aggravated torture or barbaric acts, and aggravated kidnapping or unlawful restraint.

Application of the security measure may only be pronounced if the original court that sentenced the offender expressly authorized, at the time of the sentencing, a re-examination of the offender's situation upon completion of the sentence. Once such a pronouncement has been made, the offender is placed in the specialized detention center, where he/she will receive medical, social, and psychological care. The offender may be placed in the center for one year, renewable. The law does not provide any time limit. The measure is pronounced by the territorially competent court after consultation with a specialized commission.

The law does not apply to offenders currently serving their sentences or who were sentenced before the law was passed. (Loi No. 2008-174 du 25 févier 2008 relative à la rétention de sûreté et à la déclaration d'irresponsabilité pénale pour cause de trouble mental, JOURNAL OFFICIEL [France's Official Gazette], Feb. 26, 2008, at 3266.)