Professional reintegration of released prisoners in France

Supporting detainees to ensure lasting reintegration and prevention of recidivism

The Air Liquide Foundation supports the Wake up Café association, created in 2014. The association offers programs aiming to completely rehabilitate prisoners, provide personalized individual support both inside and outside of prison, and ensure a supportive community, which is essential to preventing recidivism and isolation. This support is all the more important in times of Covid-19 crisis.

Project Identity 

Project Initiator: Wake up Café Sponsor: Agnès Le Guern, Director of Human Resources, Innovation & Development Division, Air Liquide SA
Location: Montreuil, 15th arrondissement of Paris, Montpellier, Lyon; France Monitoring manager: Cécile Dumont Saint Priest, Human Resources Manager, Air Liquide France Large Industries-Industrial Merchant
Year of support: 2020, 2021  


Recidivism among former prisoners

90,000 people are released from prison each year in France, 80% of whom receive no support. Among those 80%, 59% reoffend within 5 years and 33% - within a year of their discharge. In 2020, several thousand people were released from prison early during the first lockdown to free up space in prisons, without any preparation for release or a short-term vision. 48% of prisoners do not have any degree and 75%  have reached only the French "CAP" vocational training certificate level or less. Lastly, 65% of new prisoners are unemployed. Thus, the isolation of their detention adds a further barrier to their professional integration by adding a criminal record and a gap in their CV. Wake up Café therefore offers prisoners a remobilization and career plan development program during their detention over the course of three weeks. The participants are able to attend workshops during their time in prison to define their career plan, as well as workshops upon their release to prepare themselves for employment and self-reconstruction.

Wake up Café

more than 650 Wakeurs supported since 2014

less than 8% of Wakeurs reoffended in 2020

more than 200 hours of skills sponsorship in 2020

Reintegration of prisoners

Imprisonment and inaction deconstruct and dehumanize prisoners and cut them off from society. On leaving prison, it is important for released prisoners to rebuild their social and professional life.

Covid-19: enhanced individual support

Faced with the elimination of preparation courses for release from detention during the health crisis, WKF is consolidating its program:

  • Custom-made follow-up by integration officers, a psychologist and WKF educational managers on all the difficulties encountered by the detainees: housing, health, administrative procedures, employment, etc. The role of educational managers increased in 2021 after observing the emergence of new issues during the crisis, the lockdowns and the lifting of lockdowns: even more complex family ties, relationship to the authorities all the more conflictual, anxiety and depression ... 
  • Intensive 3-week employment preparation course: CV workshops, interview simulations, presentation of company codes, professions presentation, job coaching, discovery and training internship with partner companies; two-month personalized coaching for Wakeurs furthest from employment and released early from prison during the first lockdown without any preparation
  • Self-reconstruction course through group workshops: philosophy café, positive communication, eloquence, art therapy, sport, cultural and nature outings, teamwork, volunteering with other associations
  • Establishment of a Wakeur emergency grant

Assisting detainees

Wake up Café (WKF) association offers prisoners a support program during and after their detention, consisting of individual and group sessions. The objective is to help them remobilise around a professional project. The participants, also called Wakeurs, benefit from individual support and take part in workshops during their detention, as well as after its end, in order to prepare for employment and rebuild themselves. 

WKF works in collaboration with the prison integration and probation services responsible for monitoring and reintegrating convicted persons.

How the Air Liquide Foundation is participating

The support of the Air Liquide Foundation helps finance employment preparation and self-reconstruction programs. An emphasis is put on reinforced individual monitoring in the context of the health crisis due to Covid-19. The association also sets up an integration program within the partner companies.