Extract from an article originally published in Italian on Internationale, 11 March 2020 – accessible here
Since Saturday, March 7, in more than twenty Italian prisons there have been protests and riots triggered by prisoners. In just a few days ten of them – seven at Sant’Anna in Modena and three at the Nuovo Complesso di Vazia, Rieti – according to the authorities died of an overdose after stealing drugs and methadone in the infirmaries. In Foggia about seventy people have escaped, and about twenty are still at large. Demonstrations continue in various institutions, and in some cases detainees are still occupying various sections. There are dozens injured, and among them are also prison police officers.
The reasons behind all these episodes are different and have to do both with the new emergency that Italy is experiencing and with the old and festering crises that the prison has been experiencing for decades. A red thread that links many cases is the fear of the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the anger for the measures decided by the prison authorities to contain it. The decision taken by the Ministry of Justice provides, among other things, for the suspension of premium permits, the semi-freedom regime and interviews with family members from 9 to 22 March. Until then, the only communications allowed between those in prison and those waiting outside are telephone calls and video calls, in those cases where the prison is able to guarantee them. The measure unleashed the anger of those who thought it was yet another restriction on their rights, given that the spread of the virus could also spread through the operators and the prison police, who continue to go to prison; and given that prisoners involved in a cooperative or some reintegration project can no longer get out to do so, while many people can still go to work, or access telework.
Below a post from Luigi Manconi, President of A Buon Diritto Onlus.
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