“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. War pilot, 1942¶
My dear Laurence,
It was with immense pleasure that I received your letter dated November 11, containing a copy of your earlier letter from the first of October, which I had not received. Despite the interruption to our correspondence, I continued to write this entire time.
First of all, I want to let you know, Laurence, that you can post anything that I send to you on the Prison Insider site, if you think it will be useful. I think it is the only way of making my story relevant, a story that provides a first-hand account of the illogical and contradictory nature of a law. I am talking about the law that leads to the sentence of a life in prison (ostativo, until death), which can be adjusted if an accused collaborates with the judicial system.
This collaboration becomes useless and therefore impossible when all the evidence against the accused is presented in court. On the other hand, if the prisoner chooses not to collaborate, either to protect his or her family or for moral reasons, he or she will never have a chance to be free. The prisoner will never benefit from alternatives to incarceration, or enjoy conditional release. The prisoner will see his or her life sentence as the ultimate life sentence, ending only with death.
There is any number of reasons for refusing to give in to this type of blackmail. One only has to look at the risks associated with collaboration, such as the risks to personal safety and to the safety of friends and family. The Constitutional Court recognized this in 1993, observing that “A lack of collaboration cannot be taken as an indication of dangerousness, given that it could be the result of the inability of an innocent person to cooperate, or arise from the realization that the consequences of such collaboration would be unreasonable, such as the exposure of the accused or members of his or her family to serious harm. (Case # 306/1993)
The concept of “blackmail” may be refuted, but evidence cannot be overlooked. The life of a human being and those of his loved ones should not be exposed to danger[^Art52].
[^Art52]: These are references from Marcello Dell’Anna : “Articles 52 and 54, Article 384 of the Criminal Code; Article 199 of the Criminal Procedure Code, just to cite a few hypotheses.”
It should not be forgotten that the State has the right to investigate criminal acts, but first and foremost, it has the duty to respect and protect the lives of innocent third parties; collaboration becomes impossible if there are significant risks to the life and personal safety of the prisoner.
For myself and for eminent Italian jurists, such “blackmail” does not allow for rehabilitation. The way out proposed by the law goes completely against Article 27 of the Constitution.
I agree that we should correspond on a regular basis, one letter a month that you can post on your site, letters in which I can tell about my life and of life in prison, of a life punctuated by infinite time, so that others may know of “a sentence without end” (“fine pena mai”) that causes someone like me to suffer both physically and mentally, after having continually atoned for my offences during twenty-five years of imprisonment. Only someone without feelings or any humanity can fail to comprehend the absurdity of this “fine pena mai”, which lasts forever. An eternity in prison until… death.
Thank you for being there for me and for sharing with the world my words, my story, and my life, which is nothing more than an actual and tangible contradiction of an unreasonable single law. Collaborating with the justice system in order to obtain benefits during the sentence hearing is not proof of true repentance. In fact, it is the complete opposite. The accused collaborates for opportunistic motives, not to show true repentance.
More precisely, with the introduction of Article 4bis of the penitentiary law, legislators wanted to promote collaboration with justice – where it was necessary – as an indication of repentance. Well, I am a living example of a person who is becoming truly repentant and not out of opportunistic motives. Not to obtain any benefits, but to truly choose a life that leaves behind a destructive past. To resurrect like a phoenix as a better person.
I will end here and I apologize in advance if I was too long-winded, or worse, boring.
With warm greetings and a vigorous handshake,
— Published on 22 March 2017¶