Sarkozy Dumps Bastille Day Pardons

Revolutionary tradition ends with new law-and-order prez
By Sam Biddle,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2007 2:17 PM CDT
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, center, and Quebec Premier Jean Charest, left, smile after their talks at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Friday July 6; 2007. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – They won't be celebrating Bastille Day in French prisons this year: Nicolas Sarkozy, the country's new law-and-order president, has declined to grant the traditional mass pardons, as his two predecessors did every year. The pardons—3,500 last year alone—have been used as a means of easing overcrowded French prisons.

Some critics fear the reaction from prisoners who expected the pardons, on top of pressure produced by crowding; a prison system built for 50,000 inmates is now housing 61,000. Sarkozy said he's not opposed to considering pardons on an individual basis, but he won't follow the precedent of Jaques Chirac, who was ridiculed for giving amnesty to a political ally. (Read more Nicolas Sarkozy stories.)