Karting at Fresnes prison: the “Kohlanness” is controversial, what did the ministry know?

FRESNES. The Ministry of Justice was aware of the filming of a recreational competition for inmates of Fresnes prison but denies having accepted the organization of a karting despite the revelation of a production contract. What we know about Kohlanness.

[Mis à jour le 22 août 2022 à 14h30] Controversy after the organization of a recreational event at Fresnes prison: a few prisoners participated in a Kohlanness, a parody of the famous TF1 adventure show, and in particular in a karting. Since the publication of the program on August 19, these “shocking images” according to the Minister of Justice have aroused strong criticism. Eric Dupond-Moretti has also ordered the opening of an administrative investigation which should shed light on the organization of the event and reveal what the ministry was aware of because yes, in the absence of the Keeper of the Seals, the cabinet ministerial was aware of the shooting.

The Ministry of Justice does not deny having accepted the holding of the playful competition in the establishment of Fresnes but explains that the images of the program, in particular those of karting, do not correspond to what had been agreed upstream with the production of Kohlanness. Opposite, the producer of the show, Enzo Angelosanto, ensures on the contrary that all the content of the show has been validated including the organization of a karting. It is therefore word against word, but a new document is added to the file this Monday, August 22: the contract concluded between the production of Kohlanness and the administration of the penitentiary center of Fresnes consulted by BFM TV. Which specifies that a karting is planned during the filming of the four events. Contacted by the media, the Ministry of Justice explains that it was not aware of this roadmap. On the set of the news channel Enzo Angelosanto however insisted: “We were not going to jeopardize the production, so we agreed on an agreement with the prison administration of Fresnes. He is essential as a producer to have something contractual.” And to add that everything has been validated, roadmap and images, “by representatives of the Ministry of Justice affiliated with the cabinet”.

The video of the “Kohlanness” at Fresnes prison

The production of the show Kohlanness has been talked about since the publication of its show shot at the end of July at the prison of Fresnes and put online on August 19. In a 25-minute video shared on Youtube, three teams, including one of the prisoners, compete in a series of tests: general culture quiz, obstacle course, karting or even tug of war. The event had several goals: financial support for three charities and work for the integration of prisoners. This second explanation does not pass with a part of the political class including the Minister of Justice who judged that “the fight against recidivism goes through reintegration but certainly not through karting!”

“Kohlanness” in Fresnes prison, what is it?

“Kohlanness” is a well-known concept at the origin of several events in the Parisian suburbs: competitions and activities between young people from housing estates and police officers to recreate the link. But this is the first time that Djibril Dramé and Enzo Angelosanto, organizer and producer of the events, have imported their program into a prison establishment to act for the “integration of prisoners”. Both explain that the relief of the prisoners’ daily lives and the work for the reintegration of prisoners motivated the organization of Kohlanness in Fresnes. “All the people who are there are there for a good reason and the road to reintegration is through work in prison, but we have a duty: not to put them aside and not to forget that they are humans like you” , recalls the host in the introduction of the show published on Youtube. Enzo Angelosanto exposed another objective of their show on BFM TV : “The goal is to bring young people to prison to make them aware of what incarceration is”.

Three teams competed during the Kohlanness at Fresnes prison: one made up of inmates imprisoned for “short sentences” as specified in the video, another bringing together prison officers and a third team representing young people from the suburbs. All competed in a series of four events including a karting, passage of the show which concentrates the critics. They each represent a charity.

Who was aware of Kohlanness at Fresnes prison?

“Everyone was aware” of the filming of an episode of Kohlanness at Fresnes prison assured the producer of the show, Enzo Angelosanto on BFM TV. The young man explained that the organization of the event was possible thanks to agreements reached with the Ministry of Justice, responsible for prison administrations. “We had agreements, we were ready to do it, at no time did we take anyone by surprise, everyone was aware of our action, we had validations, we signed an agreement between our parties and the ‘prison administration,’ added the producer.

The Ministry of Justice does not deny having been aware of the shooting but explains that the images of the video do not correspond with what had been agreed upon beforehand. However, the ministerial cabinet was able to control the images shot since a communication team was present at Fresnes prison on July 27 to attend the broadcast, accompany the journalists and validate the images before they are broadcast. Which implies that the videos of the karting are not a surprise for the ministry. Especially since according to Figaro the content of the video has been checked by the Communication Department of the Ministry of Justice, causing a delay in the broadcast of the program on Youtube.

And concerning the Keeper of the Seals? Eric Dupond-Moretti was not personally aware of the organization of the Kohlanness according to the ministry. The administrative investigation ordered by the Minister of Justice must allow “to know exactly the ins and outs of what happened” and what was known to government actors.

Why is the organization of karting at Fresnes prison controversial?

The recreational event organized at the prison of Fresnes has concentrated criticism of right-wing policies since August 19 and the remarks are aimed more particularly at karting. “Our prisons are not summer camps in which detainees and guards weave bonds of friendship”, protested LR deputy Eric Ciotti while others recalled that prisons are places of “deprivation of freedoms” where karting has no place. Far-right figures criticized the event, assuring that the show was financed by taxes such as the vice-president of the RN in the National Assembly, Hélène Laporte. The general secretary of the Force Ouvrière (FO) national penitentiary union, Emmanuel Baudin, also did not appreciate the organization and financing of such an event: “We spent so much money for two prisoners in a prison which has more than 1,000 inmates. It is one of the most dilapidated prisons in France, I think there was something else to do”. A remark that can be heard but cannot be used as a criticism, the Kohlanness having been entirely financed by the producers of the show.

Cédric Boyer, FO Justice manager at Fresnes prison questioned the usefulness of the event for the reintegration of prisoners. According to him, reintegration involves vocational training, work, school and compensation for victims, but not pure entertainment.

Who are the detainees from Fresnes who took part in the event?

The participation of inmates in the entertainment event arouses criticism but it was essential according to the producers who wanted to “sensitize” young people to life in prison and on occasion lighten daily life in prison in addition to working for reintegration. . The producers did not communicate on the number of prisoners who took part in the filming – we only know that only two prisoners were able to go kart – but they specified that all were imprisoned for short sentences.

A member of the production team insisted and assured that “none of those who participated is a murderer or a rapist. They are there for small sentences. They have been handpicked by the administration of the prison.” The man added that all of the participating inmates “are on a reintegration journey, taking courses, having a job, etc.” During the filming, the exchanges with the detainees went without a hitch and a prison supervisor declared in the video that “the detainees played the game, were respectful”.

Who financed the organization of “Kohlanness” in Fresnes?

The financing of the organization of the Kohlanness at the Fresnes prison is another question on which tempers have heated. The extreme right first affirmed and accused Eric Dupond-Moretti of having organized the event with taxpayers’ taxes, like Damien Rieu, vice-president of the Zemmourist party Reconquête! Accusations taken up in unison by far-right elected officials such as MP Hélène Laporte. The ministry denied having financed the event and assured France info that the entire financing was the responsibility of the production of Kohlanness: “There was no financing of the activities on the part of the prison”. The producers of the show confirm to be autonomous to finance the episodes of Kohlanness. One of them, who wishes to remain anonymous, said “that these are subsidies granted to the association or sponsors who have made it possible to pay for the organization of Kohlanness.

There remains the question of the money donated to the charities represented by each team. In this case, it is the prison of Fresnes which paid 2,700 euros to the associations. An action welcomed by the director of the penal establishment Jimmy Delliste. 1,700 euros were donated to the Arc-en-ciel association, which makes the dreams of sick children come true and defended by the team of guards, 650 euros went to the Relais Enfants-Parents, a cause supported by the prisoners and which allows preserve the link between incarcerated parents and their children and finally 350 euros were donated to the Unitess association. “The money donated by the prison went directly to associations,” confirms one of the organizers.

Karting at Fresnes prison: the “Kohlanness” is controversial, what did the ministry know?