France will introduce a landline telephone into some 50,000 prison cells nationwide over the next three years.
The move is a bid to maintain prisoners’ links with families and prevent suicides, officials say.
“There have always been telephone cubicles in prisons but inmates must be accompanied by staff, which requires time and availability,” the Justice Ministry said in a statement.
It is hoping the move will improve rehabilitation and stem the illegal import of mobile phones into prisons.
French authorities are not alone in failing to curb the smuggling of mobile phones into prisons. Across a population of 70,000, more than 19,000 handsets and accessories were seized from inmates in the first half of 2017.
Welcomed by some, the move to install phones has also been criticised for the expected 80-centime-per-minute charge to inmates.