Contact with the outside world
All prisoners have the right to receive visits
Prisoners benefit from four monthly visits. Two additional visits can be allowed for good behaviour. They last for one hour. Those with relatives visiting from other countries can have longer visits. Restrictions can be imposed on certain prisoners, notably those under 41A detention.
The rules for visits are stipulated in Article 18 of the Prison Rules.
The prisoner fills out a visit authorisation request form at the registration office (ufficio matricola) in advance of the first visit. It discloses the relevant visitor’s information, including the visitor’s passport if the visitor is a foreign national. Social Services then verifies the visitor’s identity. Successive visits are made by reservation.
Visits for pre-trial prisoners are subject to authorisation by the investigating judge (giudice indagini preliminari).
Visit permits are granted
within a week
People eligible to visit
family and friends
The prison service, unlike other public services, does not differentiate between cohabiting spouses and married couples. Chaplains, personal assistants, consular representatives, and members of Parliament are authorised to visit1
Ministry of Justice, Soggetti ammessi a colloqui e visite con la persona detenuta, 2018. ↩
Visitation rooms are usually shared. They are equipped with small tables and stools. The dimensions of the room vary from prison to prison. Game rooms are usually reserved for children. Certain prisons have exterior areas for visits in summer.1
Prison personnel monitor visits by video surveillance.
A maximum of three people is allowed to visit a prisoner at the same time.
Prisoners and visitors can meet without physical barriers
Physical barriers have been gradually eliminated since 2000. They remain for certain prisoners, notably those under 41-bis detention.
Prisoners are allowed to receive visits from their children or minor relatives
yes, and special arrangements are provided
Associations are authorised to accompany children during visits with their detained parent.
Conjugal visits are allowed
Prison rules do not provide for conjugal visits. The prison service grants leave permits to prisoners so that they can spend time with their families.
Conjugal and family visits in dedicated areas within the prison are now being tested. The first “affection rooms” (stanze dell’affetività) have been set up for the jails in Opera in Milan and Bollate.
Visitors can usually bring books, food, and clothing. The list of forbidden items varies from prison to prison. The administration inspects packages brought in.
Prisoners are allowed to exchange mail
Mail exchanged is subject to control
The prison service inspects all post entering or leaving. Post for Article 41-bis prisoners can be censored.
In 2008 and 2009, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found Italy guilty of having censored mail between prisoners and their loved ones, their attorneys, and the courts.1
Prisoners are allowed to exchange mail in sealed envelopes
yes, for some recipients
Correspondence addressed to attorneys, to the NPM, and to national and international judicial bodies is confidential.
Prisoners are allowed to receive parcels
yes, under certain conditions
A prisoner can receive up to four packages per month through the postal service, each weighing less than 5 kg. Fifteen days must elapse between a visitor dropping off a package and the delivery of it by the postal service. 1
Prisoners under 41-bis detention are usually not allowed packages.
E-mail exchange is possible
yes, under certain conditions
Some facilities, such as Opera (Milan), Rebibbia (Rome), and Porto Azzurro (Elba), authorise prisoners to participate in a payment-based email service. Prisoners in Porto Azzurro pay ten euros to be able to send 12 emails.
Prisoners are allowed to make external phone calls
Prisoners are allowed to have a ten-minute phone call each week. Additional calls are allowed in certain situations, such as when the recipient is a child under ten, in cases of a transfer, etc. Calling a landline, which is considered as more reliable, is more easily approved. Calling a mobile phone is authorised when no other means of communication is possible or when the prisoner has not had any other telephone calls in the preceding 15 days.
Contact is determined by the guidelines of each prison and in accordance with certain restricted hours. Calls and their recipients are subject to authorisation beforehand by a judge for persons under pre-trial detention. For convicts, authorisation comes from the warden.
Receiving a phone call may be permitted in certain instances.1
Prisoners are allowed to call
Prisoners are allowed to call family members, spouses, and other loved ones (roommates, for example). Other calls are possible with the proper justification.
The phones are located
in the corridors
The cost of phone calls is in line with market prices
Calls are generally made by purchasing a prepaid card sold by the prison.
Phones calls are wire tapped
A judge can order the placement of a wiretap on any prisoner. Phone calls for AS and 41A prisoners are subject to routine surveillance.
The use of cell phones is authorised
Cell phones are not authorised in prison. Their presence is, however, acknowledged.
Prisoners have access to video calls with external contacts
Fewer than one in six prisons has access to videoconferencing equipment.