Italy’s prisons face serious overcrowding problems, with 53,637 people occupying space for 47,000, according to the annual report of Associazione Antigone, an Italian NGO that works to protect human rights.
Of the 189 prisons in Italy, 117 exceed the 100% occupancy rate. Some prisons like one in Brescia reached a record 200%.
In June 2021, Italian prisons had a “real overcrowding rate” of 113%. The government claims that there is enough space behind bars for inmates and that some 4,000 cells are constantly being repaired or renewed.
Since the beginning of 2021, there have been 18 suicides in Italian prisons, in addition to 62 in 2020 (one for every 10,000 inmates), the highest number in recent years.
Prisoners have complained of torture and there have been reports of beatings. Some claim that conditions behind bars have directly contributed to the suicides.
“The situation is very bad because the prison system is still partially in lockdown mode. Social activities are very limited, access for external personnel, volunteers, etc., is still limited in most prisons. Contacts with women Families are limited, and this has obviously been happening since the beginning of the pandemic, so the situation is very heavy for the prisoners, “Alessio Scandurra, coordinator of the Antigone Observatory on prison conditions, told Euronews.
Associazione Antigone calls on the government to tackle this problem of overcrowding by reducing the length of criminal proceedings, as people in pretrial detention are over-represented in Italian prisons.
“We also have an over-representation of people arrested for drug and drug offenses, compared to other European countries. Therefore, a different approach to drugs in law and police practices, but also in social policies, could mark the difference in overcrowding in prisons, “Scandurra added.
Lack of fresh, potable water, Scandurra said, could exacerbate problems during the summer months.
Prison guards arrested
A video showing guards brutally beating prisoners in a jail near Naples last year he was released in June, pressuring Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi to seek reform of the prison system.
Since then, 52 prison guards have been detained. But according to Scandurra, some of the guards seen in the video are not being investigated as it was impossible to identify them due to the masks and helmets.
“We need to introduce identification numbers for police officers. That will be very important, for example, in cases like this,” he said.
“Other measures, such as the quality and efficiency of the video recording system that was so important in the Santa María Capua Vetere prison, are not always present in many other facilities. We have ongoing investigations of similar cases, in the same period. , for the same reason. But there was no video recording. Either the prison was not equipped or the system was not working. And therefore, we do not have this important evidence. ”
See the full video report in the player above.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism