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France president balks at traditional Bastille Day pardons

[JURIST] New French President Nicolas Sarkozy [official profile; BBC profile] said in an interview [transcript] published Sunday by the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche [media website] that he will not continue with the tradition of granting mass pardons on Bastille Day, adding that he will not use pardons as a way to reduce overcrowding in the prison system. Sarkozy, who campaigned on a tough anti-crime platform, says he will instead grant pardons on a case-by-case basis.

Sarkozy is currently pushing draft legislation instituting minimum sentences for repeat offenders [JURIST report]. Critics, including prisoners' rights groups and prison guards, allege that the already overcrowded French prisons, which approximately 61,000 inmates but were designed for only 50,000, cannot withstand the additional pressure, and fear that the latest decision will a backlash and possibly even rioting. AP has more.

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