The history of Beziers prison

The city of Béziers had a small prison called "Malapague", which meant deadbeat, probably built in the 12th century. Note the presence of two rooms reserved for women. This prison goes through time with some modifications.

With the appearance of legislative texts establishing a distinction between remand prison and central prison, the city of Béziers is becoming aware of the importance of having a more spacious and safer establishment. The project to build a new penitentiary then saw the light of day.

In 1843, the Marc family offered for sale a plot of 3200m2 located near the former bishopric. A competition for architects was launched in 1846. The winner was the departmental architect ALRIC assisted by his deputy GINIES. But due to a lack of funding, the project remains on hold.

The Revolution of 1848 will accelerate things. At that time, the prisons of Hérault and the prisons of France (Toulon, Brest, Rochefort) were overcrowded.

Despite some reluctance on the part of the municipality, the deed of sale of the land was signed in 1850 for the sum of 57’500 Francs by the General Council and the City Council.

The construction quotes are accepted by the Minister of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce and the chosen companies:

- Jean MILBIE, entrepreneur
- Louis GAUD, locksmith
- MAJORY, roofer
- BIROT, carpenter
- FESQUET, carpenter

The demolition of the buildings that stood on the land began in 1850.
Construction will end in 1857. However, the prison will not really be used by staff and prisoners until 1867. Expansion work will take place until 1880.

It was a sub-prefecture remand center but gained importance in 1939 thanks to the guillotine. Indeed, by a decree-law of June 24, 1939, the prison of Béziers welcomed the guillotine for the three departments, Hérault, Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales. It was enlarged on this occasion. Nine prisoners were executed there. The last executions took place in 1949, those of two young boys, René-Antoine Fournial and Elie Hubert Véves.

Overcrowding was constant, planned for 48 places, the number was never below 100, even going up to 300 prisoners.
It was decommissioned in 2009 following the opening of the new prison.

Six months after closing, Roschdy Zem shot his film “Omar killed me” there.

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