All inmates are admitted to prison with a valid commitment order


Prisoners can inform their families about their imprisonment


There is a reception area for arriving prisoners

in some facilities

The prison service requires all correctional facilities to create an area reserved for arriving prisoners in order to prevent suicides. Few facilities have this area.1

  1. European Prison Observatory, “Prison conditions in Italy”, September 2019, p. 10. 

A copy of the prison regulations is made available to the prisoners


The prison administration often gives out a booklet detailing the inmate’s rights upon admission. Elsewhere, volunteers intervene to advise the arriving prisoners.

Prisoners may voice their wishes regarding their cell assignment, although they are not always considered. In theory, defendants on remand and convicts should be separated. Prison overcrowding often makes this difficult to adhere to. Judicial authority may decide that no contact between certain prisoners is required.

Each new prisoner is entitled to an interview with a psychologist upon arrival, or at the earliest opportunity, to identify any high-risk behaviour.

Prisoners can be assisted by a lawyer throughout their incarceration


Free legal assistance is enshrined in law. The Italian government usually pays the fees for lawyers assisting disadvantaged prisoners in arrears.1

  1. European Prison Observatory, “Prison conditions in Italy”, September 2019, p. 14. 

Deaths in custody are logged in a register


Number of deaths in custody



The documentation centre Ristretti keeps an updated register online of the number of prison deaths.

Variation in the number of deaths in custody

increase of 16.26%

In 2015, there were 123 prison deaths.

Number of deaths attributed to suicide



Variation in the number of suicides

increase of 35.9%

In 2015, there were 39 suicides in prison.

Death rate in custody (per 10,000 prisoners)



Suicide rate in custody (per 10,000 prisoners)



National suicide rate (per 10,000 inhabitants)



The prison service must notify a judicial authority for

some deaths

An internal medical report is required for every prison death. Where necessary, the prison service forwards this to the judicial authority for further investigation.

An internal medical report is required for every prison death. Where necessary, the prison service forwards this to the judicial authority for further investigation.

The prison service is required to inform the deceased person’s relatives as soon as possible (Article 29 of the Prison Rules).

Suicide prevention policies are implemented


The prison service has implemented national and regional suicide prevention plans. They promote the collection of data on local, regional and national scales, which should enable suicidal tendencies to be detected. At-risk prisoners receive psychological support from professionals and volunteers. They can also qualify for additional visits and telephone calls. The prison staff is required to remain vigilant to identify high-risk situations.1

  1. Ministry of Justice, National plan to prevent suicidal behaviour (Piano nazionale per la pevenzione delle condotte suicidarie nel sistema penitenziario per adulti), 2017 (in Italian). 

Allegations of violence or ill-treatment have been reported. 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.1

  1. European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, “Report to the Italian Government on the Visit from 12–22 March 2019”, 2020, pp. 11-15. 

  • Police arrested 52 prison officers in Santa Maria Capua prison on suspicion of mistreating prisoners while quelling a riot. The riot started on 6 April 2020 and was triggered by a case of COVID-19.

    / Ansa

The prohibition of torture is enshrined in the Constitution and the legislation

only in the legislation

Parliament approved the law of 14 July 2017 explicitly prohibiting torture. This is reflected in Articles 613-bis and 613-ter of the penal code.

  • A prison officer was found guilty of torturing an inmate at Ferrara Prison and was sentenced to three years in prison. This is the first case since the crime of torture was introduced into the penal code in 2017.

    / la Repubblica

The United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) was

ratified in 1989

signed in 1985

Sexual harassment is punishable by a prison sentence of up to six months and a fine of 516 euros. Article 613 of the penal code punishes physical assaults and acts of cruelty with 5 to 12 years in prison. The penalty is raised to 30 years of imprisonment where these acts lead to the death of the victim.

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.1

  1. European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, “Report to the Italian Government on the Visit from 12–22 March 2019”, 2020, pp. 16-17. 

If so, the prison service must notify a judicial authority


Doctors are not trained to identify signs of torture.

Number of recorded violent acts between prisoners



Prisoners victim to violence and/or sexual harassment from other prisoners are entitled to the same rights (compensation and punishment for those responsible) as free people. A study led by Antigone in 2019 found that this procedure is particularly complex. It is difficult to gather evidence, and testimonies are often unreliable. Transfers prove to be the only effective protection for prisoners victim to violence.

Each prison facility keeps an updated record of violence between inmates


Acts of violence between prisoners are investigated


Number of complaints filed by prisoners against the prison service


The prison service does not have a central register for complaints filed against them, nor does it have a judge or an international body for prisoners. However, in 2018, the Italian Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture received 471 complaints from prisoners.1

  1. Garante nazionale dei diritti delle persone detenute o private della libertà personale*, Report to Parliament (Relazione al Parlamento), 2019, p. 130 (in Italian). 

Article 35-bis of the prison rules allows prisoners to complain against the prison service.

Inspection judges (magistrati di sorveglianza) are authorised to receive prisoners’ complaints. They are independent from the prison service. As a last resort, prisoners can also claim their rights with the ECHR.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) was

ratified in 2013

signed in 2003

An NPM has been established

yes, in 2014

Name of the NPM

Garante nazionale dei diritti delle persone detenute o private della libertà personale

National Guarantor for the Rights of Individuals Detained or Deprived of their Liberty

The NPM has come into office

yes, in 2016

The NPM was appointed by

the Executive Power and the Parliament

Members of the NPM are nominated by the Council of Ministers and appointed by the President of the Republic, after hearings from relevant parliamentary committees.

Structure of the NPM

collegiate body, three members

The President of the NPM and the two members nominated by the council cannot be members of prison or ministerial staff.

Term of office of the NPM

five years, non-renewable, irrevocable

The NPM reports are made public


Annual NPM reports are handed over to Parliament between March and April, and subsequently published online. Each site visit is subject to a report.

Number of visits made by the NPM during the year


From 01/01/2018 to 31/01/2019 - National Guarantor for the Rights of Individuals Detained or Deprived of their Liberty, Report to Parliament, pp. 116-117

The legislation allows the NPM to carry out unannounced visits


The NPM can conduct both routine and unannounced visits. Routine visits are regional and have a specific purpose. Unannounced visits are ad hoc and aim to monitor.

A complaint can be filed with the NPM by prisoners, their relatives, their lawyer or any other individual. Large numbers of complaints coming from the same facility will usually lead to a visit.

The NPM can monitor all prison facilities, units and premises


The NPM recommendations are effectively implemented

in some cases

The NPM directs its remarks and recommendations to the prison administration. In the event of disagreement, the administration then has 30 days to respond. All remarks, recommendations and responses are published on the NPM’s website. The names of those involved are not disclosed. The mandate of the NPM allows them to see for themselves whether their recommendations have been taken into account.

A regional body monitors the places of deprivation of liberty


The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT).

Its reports are made public


The Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture (SPT) has visited the country


From 16 to 22 Septembre 2015

Its report was made public


The report from the Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture’s visit was published on 23 September 2016.

Antigone is authorised to visit all correctional facilities. As was the case for 95 facilities in 2019. The association is not permitted to engage with prisoners during these visits.

The Prisons Observatory (Osservatorio Carcere), established in 2006, visits facilities and issues recommendations. It consists of a government official and a working group.

Independent monitoring bodies are present in most Italian regions. Regional councils locally appoint a mediator (Garante regionale dei diritti della persona). They are responsible for issues within the prisons. Their role is to promote and ensure the rights of individuals, particularly in the event of a conflict with the administration.

The law provides for a sentence adjustment system


The Supervision Court (tribunali di sorveglianza) has the authority to grant sentence adjustments.

The sentence can be adjusted as soon as it is pronounced (ab initio)


Those sentenced to less than three years of imprisonment, or whose remaining sentence is less than three years, are eligible for probation. Their profile is taken into account.

Sentence adjustments can be granted during the incarceration


Granting sentence adjustments during incarceration is conditional upon “good behaviour” and often also upon involvement in activities. A remission of 45 days may be granted for each six-month period of imprisonment.

Prisoners can contest a negative decision of sentence adjustment


Specific categories of prisoners are ineligible for sentence adjustment


Those convicted of criminal organisation in connection with the mafia are ineligible for sentence adjustments unless they cooperate with the justice system.
In 2019, Italy was found guilty by the ECHR in the Viola vs. Italy case for the life sentence without possible adjustment and inhuman detention conditions imposed upon prisoners convicted of terrorism or with links to a mafia group.

The law provides for a temporary release system


“Good behaviour” may allow for up to 15 days of temporary release.

Temporary release can be granted to prisoners serving sentences of less than four years, or those having already served at least a quarter of their sentence (ten years minimum for those with life sentences).

The law provides for a sentence adjustment for medical reasons


Prisoners who are ill may be placed under house arrest.

  • The Supreme Court ruled in favor of revising the sentence of prisoners with serious diseases and at risk of complications in case of infection with the coronavirus. This decision was to be applied even if there were no reports of infection in the facility.

    / Il Meridiano

Number of prisoners who have been granted a presidential pardon or amnesty during the year



Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic, pardoned, either totally or partially, 20 people between 2015 and 2019. A presidential pardon is granted on an individual basis, with the approval of the Ministry of Justice. An amnesty arises as a result of a general legislative decision, where one or more types of crime in particular are concerned.