Daily life

All prisoners are entitled to spend at least one hour a day in the open air


The prison service offers activities to prisoners


The prison service is required to organise cultural, physical, and recreational activities (Article 27 of the Prison Rules). The number and quality of the activities depends on several factors: the involvement of external participants, the goodwill of the warden, and local institutions. AS or 41-bis prisoners are not authorised to participate in communal activities with the others.

There are designated places for physical activities and sports


Most facilities have athletic fields and gymnasiums.

There are designated places for cultural activities


The main cultural activities offered to prisoners are theatre workshops, film discussions, literature and writing workshops, art, journalism, and music.1
Theatre is a key socio-cultural activity. Antigone stresses the importance of this activity for the rehabilitation of prisoners.2

  1. Antigone, Fourteenth Report on Prison Conditions, 2018 (in Italian). 

  2. Antigone, Fifteenth Report on Prison Conditions, 2019 (in Italian). 

Number and percentage of prisoners who participate in socio-cultural activities


In 2018, the administration counted 34,896 prisoners who had participated in “cultural or recreational” activities, with as many as 4,665 prisoners having taken part in theatre workshops and 1,200 in the development of shows.

Number and percentage of prisoners who participate in sport activities

26.7 % (15,934)

Prisoners are not involved in the selection of their activities. This choice is up to the administration and external participants.

Access to activities is not subject to any conditions. Restrictions can, however, be imposed as part of disciplinary measures or on prisoners who are in solitary confinement.

Prison facilities have a library

most facilities

The largest facilities have a library in each section that is freely accessible when cells are open. Other facilities only possess a single library. Sign-up to a waiting list is required to access it.
Prisoners participate in a committee to select the books.

Work is compulsory


Number and percentage of prisoners who work

29.7 % (18,070)

The prison administration directly employs 15,689 prisoners. The number of prisoners working for organisations (businesses or associations) outside of prisons is 2,381.

Variation in the number of prisoners who work

increase of 24.2%

The number of prisoners working as of December 31, 2014 was 14,550. They thus represented 27.62% of the incarcerated population.

All prisoners are allowed to work


Prisoners convicted of having mafia associations or of other serious crimes are not authorised to work outside of prisons. They are allowed to work outside after serving 2/3 of their sentence.

Labour as a punitive measure is prohibited


People desiring to work must sign up for a waiting list.

Most of the proposed jobs are in the scope of general service: cooking, meal distribution, maintenance, and laundry.
Some prisoners are assigned secretarial jobs or are tasked with writing documents for other prisoners.
However, the administration has its own fabrication workshops, for uniforms or furniture for example. 1

  1. Ministry of Justice, Lavoro dei detenuti, 2019. 

Work is distributed in accordance with the skills required and with consideration to the duration of the prisoner’s sentence, the number of dependent children, and the economic situation of each individual prisoner.

Prisoners are paid for their work


Salaries are

slightly below the national minimum wage

Wages cannot be below two thirds of wages for the same job on the outside.

Their income is subject to social contributions


Prisoners have the right to join trade unions


Authority(ies) in charge of education and vocational training

Ministry of Education, universities and research.

In 2019, the Ministry of Education, Universities, and Research formed an agreement with the Ministry of Justice in order to bolster education in prisons.

Prisoners enrolled in educational training

35.3 % (21,071)

In 2018, there were 20,357 prisoners pursuing scholastic endeavours. More than half of them were foreigners, and most were taking reading or Italian courses. The number of prisoners pursuing a university education was 714 for the same period. It primarily included Italians.

The regional prison heads organise vocational training with authorities and agencies for local employment.

Education is provided

in all facilities

Education is available for all prisoners


The administration is required to pay particular attention to the education and training of prisoners under the age of 25 (Article 19 of the Prison Rules).

The prison service implements measures to fight illiteracy


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.

    Ministry of Justice, "Attività trattamentali – Università"

Number and percentage of prisoners enrolled in vocational training

4.2 % (2,506)

Vocational training is provided


The main training courses offered are in art and culture, food and beverage, construction, agriculture, and gardening.

Prisoners from the Lecce casa circondariale can pursue sommelier training. Other facilities, such as the Bollate casa di reclusione in Milan, have a restaurant for training for careers in food and beverage. The Bollate restaurant is open to the public.

Vocational training is available for all prisoners


The number of places for these training courses is limited.

Distance courses are available


Restrictive prison regimes and a lack of facilitators or teachers often leads to distance learning.

Prisoners have access to computers

in some facilities

In some facilities, prisoners following a university programme can use computers.1

  1. Antigone, Fifteenth Report on Prison Conditions, 2019 (in Italian). 

Prisoners are allowed to keep themselves informed regularly on public affairs


Prisoners have access to a television


There is usually a television in activity rooms, common areas, or in cells.

Prisoners have access to a radio


Prisoners have access to the press


The prison service allows access to Internet

in some facilities

Internet access is possible in some facilities for sending emails, conducting videoconferencing interviews, or university studies.

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.

    Antigone, Fifteenth Report on Prison Conditions

Prisoners are free to practice their religion and follow their beliefs


Article 19 of the Constitution guarantees the freedom of worship to all.

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.

    Antigone, Fifteenth Report on Prison Conditions

There are chaplains in the prisons

depends on the religions

The prison administration has established conventions with the Vatican and the Union of the Italian Islamic Community and Organisations (UCOII). Some facilities benefit exclusively from Catholic chaplains.

The prison service remunerates the chaplains

depends on the religions

The administration only pays Catholic chaplains. Religious guidance is provided on a voluntary basis.

Individuals or organisations from the outside are allowed to participate in prison activities

  • As of 2018, there were 16,838 external participants and volunteers.

    Ministry of Justice, "Attività trattamentali – Volontariato"

Authorisations for external actors to take part in prison activities are provided by

the prison governor and the supervisory magistrate

The administration makes annual agreements with the different associations. Authorisation of entry for an individual person must come from the warden and the supervisory magistrate. (Article 78 of the Prison Rules).

Catholic associations, such as Caritas, are especially present in prisons. Numerous athletic associations, legal assistance groups, and associations for the maintenance of familial relationships such as Bambinisenzasbarre) have permission to enter.

Most external participants are volunteers.

Prisoners are allowed to make use of financial resources


Prisoners who work receive payment through a savings account. Their loved ones can send them money either by postal money order, at the prison service window during a visit, or by bank wire in certain prisons. Prisoners can also send up to 350 EUR per month to their loved ones.[^note] [^note]: Ministry of Justice, Inviare soldi a ricevere soldi da persona detenuta, 2019.

Financial resources are accessible

in an account

Those who are only accused can keep up to 2,065.82 EUR in a personal account. Convicted prisoners cannot have more than 1,032.91 EUR. The administration keeps anything in excess of these amounts in a separate bank account for the condemned person.

Destitute prisoners receive financial or in-kind support


The administration is required to provide in-kind assistance (clothing, hygienic products) to destitute prisoners. Aid is most often provided by associations.

Prisoners are allowed to discuss matters relating to their conditions of imprisonment


Any request made to the prison administration is made exclusively by filling out a form (domandina). This may relate to prison conditions.

Prisoners have the right of association


Prisoners have the right to vote

yes, convicted prisoners with a sentence of less than three years

Article 28 of the Penal Code specifies the procedures for suspension of civic rights.

Some prisons have workshops for audiovisual and written productions. Prisoners in the Padua and Venice (women) prisons contribute to an online newspaper, Ristretti.
Prisoners in Rebibbia (Rome), Bollate (Milan), and Vallette (Turin) produce a weekly radio programme titled Jailhouse Rock. It is rebroadcast in different regions by local radio stations.