For the few dozen people living in cell blocks designated for suspected radical Muslim terrorists in France, life is isolating. Most inmates are closed in their cells for the majority of the day, without access to internet or other forms of communication, and a judge must give permission for them to use the phone in order to speak with family or lawyers. They pass their days speaking with each other, praying and waiting the months or years until their release.
“They have the feeling of being completely separated from other prisoners and even from all other human beings,” said Florian LaStelle, a French lawyer who has defended clients accused of attempting to join Islamic terror groups in Syria. “These are people who spend 22 hours out of 24 in a cell, and their only form of communication is with other people who are suspected of being radicals,” he said.