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Italy: #iostoconmarco, hunger strike against inhuman jail conditions

Written by Bah Abdoulaye · Translated by Ciara Nugent On 5 January 2013 @ 16:38 pm | No Comments

In Citizen Media, Economics & Business, Elections, Food, Governance, Human Rights, Italian, Italy, Law, Media & Journalism, Podcasts, Politics, Protest, Western Europe

[All links point to original resources in Italian, unless otherwise noted]

In early December 2012, the Italian hashtag #iostoconmarco [1] [#imwithmarco] was trending on Twitter [2] and Facebook [3], as well as being widely discussed in the blogosphere and on mainstream media across the country. Marco Pannella, the long-standing leader of the Partito Radicale Nonviolento Transnazionale e Transpartito [4][en, Non Violent Radical Transnational and Transparty], an NGO with general consultative status at the ECOSOC of the United Nations, embarked on another hunger and thirst strike [5] to denounce living conditions in Italian prisons and to demand that measures are adopted to reduce the numbers of prisoners and to give them the right to vote.

On the website amnistiasubito.it [6] [Amnesty Now], Pannella describes [7] his aims as follows:

L'obiettivo è sempre quello: ottenere che lo Stato italiano interrompa la flagranza tecnicamente criminale in termini di diritto internazionale e della “ex” Costituzione italiana. Mentre continuano ad arrivare conferme dalla giurisdizione europea, abbiamo fornito lo strumento perchè questo possa accadere formalmente in dieci giorni. Come episodio enorme, storico, dopo 30 anni di tradimento ed illegalità”.

“The objective is always the same, to ensure that the Italian state puts an end to the concept of “flagrante delicto”, which is technically illegal under both international law and the “former” Italian Constitution. While the European judiciary continues to issue condemnations [of Italian prisons], we have provided the means to ensure that this can occur formally in ten days. A great event, a historic one, after 30 years of betrayal and illegality.”

Everyone admits that living conditions in its prisons are truly shocking in a country like Italy. In this video, entitled “Viaggio choc nelle prigioni italiane” (A shocking journey into Italian prisons), representatives of the criminal bar association testify to and denounce [8] the conditions under which prisoners are forced to live. They declare [8] that:

Fino a 9 detenuti occupano una cella per 4 persone. … La maggioranza dei detenuti trascorre in cella 20 ore su 24…

“Up to 9 prisoners share a cell designed for four people ….The majority of prisoners spend 20 hours a day in their cells…”

Publishing the latest National data [9], the website primadanoi.it points out that:

La maggior parte dei detenuti entrati nelle carceri nel 2011 (76.982) è in attesa di giudizio, mentre soltanto il 10% circa ha una condanna definitiva. Il 25% di questi torna in libertà entro una settimana.

“The majority of prisoners who entered prison in 2011 (76, 982 individuals) are awaiting trial, while only 10% of them have been sentenced. Of these 25% are released within a week.”

In a post [10] published on unimondo.org last September, Alessandro Graziadei [11] denounced the immobilism of the Italian government, citing the words of the MP Rita Bernardini:

A causa della mancanza di fondi per la manutenzione ordinaria e straordinaria, intere zone negli istituti sono chiuse, transennate, però restano nel computo della capienza regolamentare” inoltre “il disegno di legge delega del Governo in materia di depenalizzazione e decarcerizzazione, calendarizzato a marzo, oggi è ancora al palo”

“Because of the lack of funds for routine and one-off repairs, entire wings of institutions are closed, blocked off, but are still included in the official capacity figures”, and, moreover, “the Government's planned delegation law on decriminalisation and decarceration, scheduled for March, still remains on the starting blocks.”

Manifestazione del 25 Aprile

March for Amnesty, Justice and Liberty on Liberation Day, 25th of April 2012 (photo by the author).

An analysis of the crowded conditions in prisons was published on ristretti.org [12]:

Le cose non vanno meglio a “Poggioreale” (Napoli): 2.600 i detenuti presenti malgrado la struttura ne possa contenere la metà, con punte di 12 individui in celle in cui mancano le docce, a dispetto di quanto richiesto dal Regolamento di attuazione dell'Ordinamento penitenziario. A Lanciano, in Abruzzo, il tasso di sovraffollamento dell'istituto è del 170 per cento. La quasi totalità dei detenuti è dunque costretta a vivere al di sotto dei 3 metri quadrati, soglia minima oltre la quale – secondo quanto stabilito dalla Corte europea dei diritti dell'uomo – si configura la “tortura”.

Things are no better in the “Poggioreale” prison (Naples), where 2,600 prisoners are held in a building that was only designed to hold half of that number, with up to 12 individuals sharing cells without showers, contrary to what is required by the regulations of the Prison System Act. The prison in Lanciano, in the province of Abruzzo, is at 170% capacity. Almost all prisoners are, therefore, forced to live in an area of less than 3 metres squared, which amounts to a form of “torture”, according the European Court of Human Rights's definition.

As Ulisse Spinnato Vega explains in an investigation into the socio-economic aspects of prisons [13] on lettera43.it:

 Di norma, il 70% degli ex galeotti torna infatti a delinquere dopo il periodo di detenzione. Ma la percentuale crolla sotto il 20% se nel frattempo essi hanno svolto un’occupazione vera per conto di imprese o cooperative sociali.
I penitenziari italiani ospitano 66 mila persone e abbattere di un punto la recidiva significa tenerne fuori quasi 700 persone. Se si considera che il costo giornaliero di un detenuto si aggira sui 150 euro, lo Stato risparmia in modo diretto circa 35-36 milioni di euro.
Senza contare tutti i benefici sociali ed economici di un malvivente in meno per strada che minaccia, ferisce, uccide, ruba, rapina e impegna risorse dello Stato sul fronte repressivo.
Del resto, oltre il 50% della popolazione carceraria italiana ha tra i 21 e i 39 anni. Dunque, rappresenta un’ottima forza lavoro potenziale e, in epoca di cuneo fiscale altissimo, garantisce vantaggi competitivi alle imprese.

On average, 70% of former prisoners return to crime after the detention period. This percentage falls below 20% if, however, they have, in the meantime, gained experience of a real occupation thanks to businesses or social co-operatives.

Italian prisons are home to 66,000 people and reducing recidivism by 1 percent would mean keeping almost 700 people out of prison. If you consider that the daily cost per prisoner is around 150 Euros, this would directly save the State 35 to 36 million Euros.

This is without taking into account all the social and economic benefits of having one less criminal on the streets, threatening, injuring, killing, robbing, raping and using up less of the resources State dedicates to criminal justice.

Additionally, 50% of the prison population in Italy is between 21 and 39 years of age and represents, therefore, a good potential source of labour and, in the era of the high tax wedge, guarantees companies competitive advantages.

On his blog, Vittorio [14]describes the problems [15] with the judicial administration.

In Italia ci sono 9 milioni di processi arretrati e per ottenere una sentenza definitiva è necessario attendere 10 anni. Se da un lato il 70% dei furti e l’80% degli omicidi rimane impunito, dall'altro ogni anno 170mila processi cadono in prescrizione, un'amnistia per ricchi con buoni avvocati.

In Italy there are 9 million backlogged trials in the system and people often have to wait 10 years for a final sentence. If, on one hand, 70% of thefts and 80% of homicides remain unpunished, on the other hand, the statute of limitations lapses on 170,000 cases each year, an amnesty for rich people with good lawyers.

Jechil reveals the cost [16] of the judicial system's inability to face up to the sheer scale of work involved:

 Ancora di più: far ripartire il sistema della Giustizia, significa anche agire sui 6 milioni di processi civili arretrati che costano al nostro Paese 96 miliardi di euro in termini di mancata ricchezza (quasi l’1% del Pil italiano). Il centro Studi di Confindustria nel 2011 ha stimato che smaltire l’enorme mole di pratiche accumulate frutterebbe alla nostra economia il 4,9% del Pil, ma basterebbe abbatterne il tempo di risoluzione anche del 10% per guadagnare ogni anno lo 0,8% di Pil.

And moreover, to kick start the justice system, means tackling the backlog of 6 million unresolved civil procedures which cost our country 96 billion Euros in lost revenue (almost 1% of Italian GNP). In 2011 the Studi di Confindustria centre estimated that working through the enormous backlog would benefit our economy to the tune of 4.9% of GNP but that even cutting down the time taken to resolve just 10% of these cases would benefit the economy by 0.8% of GNP each year.

A post on the website ogginotizie.it declares [17] that:

Ci sono anche il sindaco di Firenze Matteo Renzi e il governatore della Toscana Enrico Rossi tra i politici e le personalità toscane che hanno aderito a una lettera-appello a Marco Pannella nella quale si condividono i motivi della sua protesta, lo si invita a interrompere il digiuno e si promette al leader radicale che i firmatari intraprenderanno, per un giorno, a staffetta, uno sciopero della fame. All'iniziativa, partita dal consigliere regionale del Pd Enzo Brogi in accordo con i radicali fiorentini, hanno aderito anche, si spiega in una nota, Marco Taradash, consigliere regionale del Pdl, i musicisti Erriquez Greppi e Dolcenera, il regista Alessandro Benvenuti e il vignettista Sergio Staino.

The mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, and the governor of Tuscany, Enrico Rossi, were among the politicians and Tuscan public figures that signed an open-letter to Marco Pannella, in which they supported the reasons for his protest, and called for him to halt his strike, promising that the signatories would take it in turns to go on a hunger strike for one day. In a note, it is explained that other supporters of the initiative, the brainchild of the regional PD counselor Enzo Brogi and Florentine radicals, include Marco Taradash, the PDL regional counselor, the musicians Erriquez Greppi and Dolcenera, the director Alessandro Benvenuti and the cartoonist Sergio Staino.

Young socialists in Lazio, the province in which Rome is situated, sent the following message of solidarity [18] which was published on latuavoce.it,:

Ancora una volta, quest’uomo di oltre 80 anni, che ha introdotto grandi rivoluzioni in Italia, ci consegna una grande lezione di civiltà.

Once again, this man who is more than 80 years old, who brought great revolutions to Italy, has taught us a great lesson in civility.

Nonetheless, it would be a mistake to think that Italians support Marco Pannella unanimously. For example, one commentator on Repubblica.it, attiliomanduzio expresses [19] the point of view of many Italians:

Se preferisce morire, lasciamolo morire, ‘sto rompicoglioni! Vuole solo portare all'attenzione generale la sua lista. Per poi, magari, al momento opportuno, sputare nel piatto dove mangia, come ha fatto quando i suoi sgherri non hanno fatto cadere il governo berlusconi con motivazioni ridicole. Basta! 40 anni fa ha dato una mano benemerita per l'introduzione di due istituti civili quali il divorzio e l'aborto, ma ora basta vivere di rendita!

If he wants to die, let's just let him die, the pain in the … that he is! He only wants to draw people's attention to his list. And then, perhaps, at the right moment, he'll bite the hand that feeds him, like he did when his goons failed to bring down Berlusconi's government for stupid reasons. Enough! 40 years ago he helped usher in two civil institutions, divorce and abortion, but he needs to stop living off past glories!

Meanwhile, on December 27th Marco Pannella called off his hunger strike, while declaring himself to be “ready to take it up again” if things don't begin to change [20]. With the attention of the political world fixed on the scandals uncovered by the judiciary and the parliamentary, as well as the fall of the Monti government, the legality or illegality of the Italian State does not seems to be a priority at the moment. While the extensive media coverage [21] has been fading away, it remains to be seen whether the main parties are planning to include some initiatives in favour of prisoners in their manifestos for the general elections of February 2013 or if, instead, they will fall back on the same old excuse that public opinion is not ready for the idea of a general amnesty.


Article printed from Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org

URL to article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/01/05/italy-iostoconmarco-hunger-strike-against-inhuman-jail-conditions/

URLs in this post:

[1] #iostoconmarco: http://wwww.ansa.it/web/notizie/rubriche/politica/2012/12/17/Web-mobilita-Pannella-iostoconMarco_7966417.html

[2]  Twitter: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23iostoconmarco&src=typd

[3]  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/search/results.php?q=%23iostoconmarco&pq=%23iostoconmarco&type=web&form=FBKFTA

[4] Partito Radicale Nonviolento Transnazionale e Transpartito : http://www.radicalparty.org/en

[5] another hunger and thirst strike: http://www.radicali.it/primopiano/20121219/pannella-sciopero-totale-lamnistia-giustizia-libert

[6] amnistiasubito.it: http://amnistiasubito.it

[7] describes: http://amnistiasubito.it/content/urgentissimo-da-marco

[8] testify to and denounce: http://video.gelocal.it/iltirreno/locale/viaggio-choc-nelle-prigioni-italiane/5173/5320

[9] the latest National data: http://www.primadanoi.it/news/italia/536107/Carceri--nel-2011-67-000.html

[10] post: http://www.unimondo.org/Notizie/Italia-le-mie-prigioni-rischiano-la-condanna-137303

[11] Alessandro Graziadei: http://www.unimondo.org/content/search?SearchWhere=unimondo&SubTreeArray=1867&SearchText=+Alessandro+Graziadei+

[12] ristretti.org: http://www.ristretti.org/Le-Notizie-di-Ristretti/giustizia-carceri-al-collasso-emergenza-senza-fine

[13] socio-economic aspects of prisons: http://www.lettera43.it/fatti/detenuti-lavoro-sbarrato_4367565196.htm

[14] Vittorio : http://www.blogger.com/profile/17641734139623420741

[15] the problems: http://liberamenteprato.blogspot.com/2012/12/giustizia.html

[16] the cost: http://www.mondoallarovescia.com/marco-pannella-uno-di-noi/

[17] declares: http://www.ogginotizie.it/199888-renzi-e-rossi-sciopero-della-fame-con-staffetta-per-pannella/#.UNb_3Y7FnZI

[18] message of solidarity: http://www.latuavoce.it/notizie/notizia.asp?id=52566

[19] expresses: http://www.repubblica.it/politica/2012/12/19/news/nella_stanza_di_marco_pannella_senza_giustizia_preferisco_morire-49058420/

[20] things don't begin to change: http://www.ansa.it/web/notizie/rubriche/politica/2012/12/26/Pannella-sospeso-sciopero-fame-ma-pronto-riprenderlo_7999890.html

[21] extensive media coverage: http://www.radioradicale.it/iostoconmarco-tutte-le-interviste-di-radio-radicale

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