Living conditions

The law establishes a minimum standard for living space per prisoner


Non-binding regulations from the Ministry of Health on housing have existed since 1975. It stipulates that an individual cell must measure 9m² and a 2-person cell at least 14m².
The prison administration establishes a minimum of 3m² per prisoner in a shared cell, following multiple convictions from the ECHR.

  • The CPT reported in 2016 that 16% of the prison population share cells with a surface area of less than 4m² per person. The CPT recommends a minimum of 6m² for single cells, and 4m² per person in collective cells, and shall exclude the partitioned toilet block.

    CPT, Report to the Italian government on the visit from 8 to 26 April 2016, 2017.

Prisoners are accommodated in single cells

in some facilities

Prisoners sleep on

a bunk bed

Cells are usually equipped with a table, chairs and storage.

All the prisoners are provided with bedding


All cells have a window with security bars and sometimes slatted floors. Sometimes artificial lighting stays on all day to compensate for the lack of light.

The cells/dormitories are provided with electric lighting


The cells/dormitories are equipped with heating and/or air conditioning


There is no mechanical ventilation or heating in most cells. Walls have no insulation, whether they are concrete or stone — making the atmosphere stifling in summer and cold in winter.

Prisoners can smoke

in shared spaces

A majority of the detainees smoke. Tobacco is particularly prevalent in prison. Only electronic cigarettes are allowed in cells.

Prisoners have access to water

in their cell/dormitory

  • Antigone notes that 43% of the prisons visited do not have reliable in-cell access to hot water.

    Antigone, Fourteenth report on conditions of detention

Showers are located in the cells/dormitories

in some facilities

Most of the cells do not have showers. Showers are often found in passageways. The layout of the premises and its overcrowding means there is very little privacy.

Prisoners are generally allowed two to three showers per week. Those who work can shower at the end of the day

Types of sanitary facilities


Sanitary facilities are clean, adequate and accessible


The upkeep of toilets is the responsibility of occupants.

The prison service provides personal hygiene products free of charge


The prison administration is responsible for providing hygiene products to detained persons. This provision is not respected. Oftentimes outside associations compensate for this.

The prison service provides cleaning products free of charge


Providing cleaning products is the responsibility of the prison administration. This provision is not always respected.

Beddings are refreshed


The law stipulates that the prison administration must provide adequate clothing for detained persons who do not have it. Much of this clothing is brought by volunteers or relatives. Wearing expensive clothing is prohibited. The administration provides uniforms to detained workers.

Most establishments have laundry facilities which also serve to provide work for inmates. Others are freely accessible and detainees also wash their own clothes.

The maintenance of cells is the responsibility of its occupants. The maintenance of collective spaces is the responsibility of the prison administration.

Drinking water is free and available in all areas of the facilities


The NPM indicated that water accessible to prisoners is poor quality.[^ note]

[^ note]: National guarantor of the rights of persons detained and deprived of their liberty, Norm and normality. Criminal detention (Norme e normalita. L’esecuzione penale detentiva degli adulti), 29 January 2018, pp. 25-26 (in Italian).

Number of meals per day


Three meals per day. Minors are entitled to an additional snack.

Daily cost of meals per prisoner


dollars - 5 euros

Food services are managed by

  • the prison service
  • private services
  • prisoners

Central kitchens in prison facilities are often managed by outside companies. Some inmates work in the kitchens.

The prison service is required to meet nutritional standards regarding quality and quantity


The right to adequate food is the subject of an increasing amount of research and political discussions. The Ministry of Health imposes several standards in terms of nutritional quantity and quality. A commission including detainees supervises the organisation of meals.

The prison service provides food that respects special dietary needs


Specific diets are offered to people suffering from medical ailments, such as diabetes. Several establishments offer halal meals. Muslims are allowed to have their meal after sunset during Ramadan.

  • The Antigone association reports that out of a hundred prisons visited in 2018, 75 offer a halal diet.

    Antigone, Fifteen report on conditions of detention

Prisoners eat their meals in

their cell

Meals are eaten in cells. Prisoners whose cells are furthest from kitchen are often served cold meals.

Prisoners can buy food products


Prisoners can have access to a refrigerator


Not all cells have a refrigerator. Regional prison and civil authorities are responsible for installing them.

In November 2019, the prison administration installed 400 refrigerators in Poggioreale’s Neapolitan prison cells. This decision was made in response to the ad hoc visit carried out by NPM a few months earlier.[^ Note]

[^ note]: Garante nazionale dei diritti delle persone detenute o private della libertà personale, Visita ad hoc Casa circondariale Poggioreale - Giuseppe Salvia di Napoli, 30 June 2019.

Prisoners are allowed to cook in their cells or in a shared space


Detainees may have portable stoves in their cells for cooking. Some stoves are already in cells while others must be purchased from a commissary.

Prisoners are allowed to receive food parcels


Part of the prisoner's food is produced by the prison

in some facilities

Only the colonie penali (penal farms) produce their own food.