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Prison of St-Laurent-du-Maroni
Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni and surrounding
Museums, Galleries, Exhibitions
Museums, Galleries, Exhibitions

A visit to the prison of St-Laurent-du-Maroni can be full of dramatic stories and harsh secrets. It used to house the largest prison in French Guiana.

Since 1995, the camp has been declared a Historic Monument of Guiana. Today it is an excursion site and a well-preserved example of the French penitentiary system.

In 1850, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, the first President of the Second French Republic, declared: "6,000 prisoners are too much for the budget." The ruler believed that forced labor could be effective, besides, it could be a more humane punishment and cost less - in the conditions of the French overseas colonies.

In 1952, the first group of convicts was exiled to the Îles du Salut archipelago (the Salvation's Islands). And in 1858, the prison was opened in the mainland of Guiana, on the Maroni River, to receive prisoners from France. From there, they were distributed further to various prisons in Guiana to carry out forced labor. The most dangerous criminals were sent to Devil's Island, while the rest performed labor duties.

The prison consisted of more than a dozen buildings (barracks on both sides of the courtyard, hospital, kitchen, staff buildings, laundry, library). There you can find out how convicts arrived by ship – the road took 20 days in the XIX century. Also, you can see the cell, which was believed to be the temporary detention center of Henri Charrière, the author of the novel "Papillon". There is still his name written on the wall. By the way, one of the barracks was turned into the Saint Laurent Public library.

The city of Saint-Laurent was founded later than the prison, around 1880. The labor institution existed until the middle of the XX century. Today, you can visit the prison by yourself or with a guide. On a walk, remember that although tours are in English, many staff members do not speak much of it.

Address: Camp de la Transportation

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