The Italian penitentiary system seems to be experiencing a situation of constant emergency, in particular because of the problem of overcrowding. Since the early 1990s, a populistically oriented criminal policy has tried to ride the wave of social alarmism on the topic of crime. A demagogic use of criminal law that lost its subsidiary function to acquire a symbolic function of production of common enemies to fight, as individuals potentially dangerous to society, which only it can effectively tackle. The criminalization of drug addiction first and of irregular immigration then, together with a massive recourse to pre-trial detention, represent the main stages of the imprisonment process that led to the collapse of Italian prisons, with a occupancy level with few equals in Europe. In this context, one year after the first sentence pronounced by the European Court of Human Rights against Italy, in 2010 the state of emergency of prisons in Italy was declared. The problem was not addressed by rethinking policies, but by imagining mechanisms for decongesting prisons without a broader vision. Nevertheless, the deflationary measures introduced in the last ten years have only temporarily managed to reverse the trend, and only in the context of the coronavirus disease emergency the problem of overcrowding has been downsized. The present paper aims to analyse the contradictions and shortcomings of the Italian criminal policy in the social contest of the past thirty years, and its responsibilities for the crisis of the penitentiary system.

Crisis and contradictions of the Italian penitentiary system, ten years after the declaration of the state of emergency.

Massaro Pierluca
2020

Abstract

The Italian penitentiary system seems to be experiencing a situation of constant emergency, in particular because of the problem of overcrowding. Since the early 1990s, a populistically oriented criminal policy has tried to ride the wave of social alarmism on the topic of crime. A demagogic use of criminal law that lost its subsidiary function to acquire a symbolic function of production of common enemies to fight, as individuals potentially dangerous to society, which only it can effectively tackle. The criminalization of drug addiction first and of irregular immigration then, together with a massive recourse to pre-trial detention, represent the main stages of the imprisonment process that led to the collapse of Italian prisons, with a occupancy level with few equals in Europe. In this context, one year after the first sentence pronounced by the European Court of Human Rights against Italy, in 2010 the state of emergency of prisons in Italy was declared. The problem was not addressed by rethinking policies, but by imagining mechanisms for decongesting prisons without a broader vision. Nevertheless, the deflationary measures introduced in the last ten years have only temporarily managed to reverse the trend, and only in the context of the coronavirus disease emergency the problem of overcrowding has been downsized. The present paper aims to analyse the contradictions and shortcomings of the Italian criminal policy in the social contest of the past thirty years, and its responsibilities for the crisis of the penitentiary system.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11586/315927
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