Capital city — Rome
Type of government
Human Development Index
Homicide rate (per 100,000 inhabitants)
Name of authority in charge of the pris…
Total number of prisonersi
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Average length of imprisonment (in mont…i
Total number of prison facilitiesi
An NPM has been established
Number and percentage of female prisone…i
Incarcerated minorsi15/02/2020/ Ministry of Justice Minors and young adults under the care of Child Protective Services.
Death penalty is abolished
Carceral mental health facilities (ospedali psichiatrici giudiziari, OPG) were permanently closed in 2015. They were replaced by residences for the execution of security measures (residenze per l’esecuzione delle misure di sicurezza, REMS), under the authority of the Ministry of Justice. Those prisoners deemed to not be in control of their actions and to be dangerous are placed there.
Twenty-five prisons have dedicated areas for those with mental health problems (articolazioni per la tutella della salute mentale, ATSM).
A sizable portion of the incarcerated population suffers from psychological problems, and many of those affected are kept in unfurnished disciplinary cells (celle liscie) or in the general population.
As of 2018, there were 629 prisoners placed in REMS.
Each prison has a pharmacy. Health care personnel are responsible for distributing medication. Access to medications not stocked within the pharmacy is limited.
As of 2019, prisoners taking psychotropic medications (antidepressants, sleep aids, anti-anxiety medicine) represent 30% of the incarcerated population.
Individuals or organisations from the outside are allowed to participate in prison activities
As of 2018, there were 16,838 external participants and volunteers.
Those imprisoned for crimes based on Islamic terrorism are classified as High Security 2 (AS2) and are closely regulated by the Nucleo investigativo centrale (NIC), the intelligence unit for the prison service. AS2 prisoners are most often subject to solitary confinement. The NIC also monitors prisoners suspected of radicalisation.1
Antigone, Fifteenth Report on Prison Conditions, 2019 (in Italian). ↩
As of 18 October 2018, there were 66 persons imprisoned for crimes based on Islamic terrorism. Only 6% of them had been definitively convicted. As of the same date, there were 356 prisoners suspected of radicalisation and under surveillance by the NIC.
Dedicated places of worship are available
in all facilities
All facilities have a Catholic place of worship.
Antigone highlights the fact that 22% of facilities visited in 2018 did not have places of worship other than Catholic. A large number of prisoners exercise their religion in their cells, without the possibility of collective practice.
The most represented religions in prison are Catholicism, Islam, and Orthodox Christianity.
The latest official statistics on the faiths of prisoners are from 2016. As of 31 December 2016, Catholic prisoners represent 54.7% of the incarcerated population. Muslims and Orthodox Christians represent 11.4% and 4.2% respectively. A large number of prisoners refused to respond to the questionnaire.
Prisoners are allowed to pass diplomas and entry examinations
The number of prisoners that obtained a university degree in 2018 was 28. The most popular higher education courses are in social sciences and politics, literature, and law.
Individual acts of protest are recorded
In 2018, the prison administration recorded 11,178 individual acts of protest.
Collective movements are recorded
In 2018, the prison administration recorded 1,082 collective acts of protest.
Number of escapes
The prison administration recorded 131 escapes in 2018, including four from closed establishments. [^ Note]
[^ note]: Aebi, MF, & Tiago, MM, “SPACE I - 2019 - Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics: Prison populations” (Annual penal statistics of the Council of Europe - Report 2019), p. 112 (in English).
About 20 prisoners escape, March 9, 2020, from Foggia prison in the region of Apulia.
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.
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.
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.
Prison facilities are adapted to the needs of prisoners with disabilities
Two facilities, the casa circondariale in Bari and the casa di reclusione in Parma, are specifically designed for handicapped prisoners; they have the necessary equipment and staff.
The Antigone Association outlined “An absolute inability of Italian prisons to accommodate disabled people”. It found that only 30% of prisons visited in 2017 have handicap accessible spaces. The number of accessible cells is insufficient and disabled people must rely on the kindness of fellow prisoners or staff.
The prison service keeps a record of prisoners with disabilities
As of 2015, the number of prisoners with physical or motor impairments was 628. Less than half of them are placed in accessible cells.
Prisoners sentenced to life are eligible for parole after having served over 26 years and if they are deemed not to pose a threat to themselves or others (article 176 of criminal code.
Those who are deemed dangerous and mafia members who refuse to collaborate with the justice department, classified as 41-bis, are not eligible for parole. This designation is called the “ergastolo ostativo.”
Marcello dell’Anna has spent the better part of his life in prison. He was sentenced to life ergastolo ostativo at the age of 23, when he was a boss of the Sacra Corona Unita (an Italian mafia based in Puglia).
Read his written correspondence with Swiss journalist Laurence Bolomey.
Specific sentences or rulings are reserved for minors, such as probation or an alternative sentence served in a home or a community centre. (comunità).
As of 15 February 2020, there were 13,384 sentences and trials of minors and young adults.
Women are housed in gender-specific sections of facilities that house both men and women or in the country’s four correctional facilities for women:
- two jails: Pozzuoli (Naples) and Rebibbia Femminile (Rome)
- two prisons: Venezia Giudecca and Trani.
The four women’s correctional facilities housed a total of 669 inmates in 2019 — including 260 foreign women.
All allegations and suspicions of ill-treatment inflicted on prisoners are logged
During their visit in 2019, the CPT consulted the medical records of prisoners complaining of ill-treatment by staff. They found numerous complaints.
They advised the prison service to record all incidents more carefully, whether confirmed or alleged, and to extend their video surveillance network.[^note]
Allegations of violence or ill-treatment are reported throughout the year.
In 2019, the CPT reported violence and ill-treatment towards prisoners in the facilities they had visited. The acts were usually committed out of sight of video surveillance, for example in the staircases.
There are several different prison regimes:
- The semi-open regime: under which the majority of prisoners have been placed since 2013. The cell doors stay open for between eight and fourteen hours per day, depending on the facility. The administration implements dynamic security, allowing greater autonomy for the prisoners.
- The alta sicurezza (AS) regime: a closed, high security regime, based on Articles 4-bis and 14-bis. It is broken down into three categories, depending on the type of criminal offence: AS1 (organised crime), AS2 (terrorism) and AS3 (drug trafficking). They are kept away from the rest of the prison population.
- The 41-bis regime: a special prison regime for prisoners charged with acts of terrorism, organised or mafia crime. This stricter high security system was specially designed to break all ties between the prisoners and fellow inmates who may be involved in the same criminal cases. Prisoners under the 41-bis regime are placed under constant surveillance in units reserved for solitary confinement. Time outside of the cell is limited to one hour. The possession of personal belongings is subject to prior authorisation from the administration. All communications with the outside are tightly monitored.1
As of 3 January 2019, there was a total of 748 prisoners under the 41-bis regime.2
Antigone, Fifteenth report on detention conditions, 2019 (in Italian). ↩
As of 3 January 2019, there was a total of 748 prisoners under the 41-bis regime.
ASLs suggest methadone-based substitution treatments for drug-addicted prisoners.
As of 2014, there were 1,647 prisoners receiving opioid substitution treatments.