Updated on: 2 November 2020
Database of “Critical events”
Until 30 June 2020, the sentence to imprisonment is to be executed, upon request, at the sentenced person’s home or in other public or private healthcare center, where the sentence to be served is under 18 months, even if it is the remaining part of a longer sentence.
Following offenders are excluded from that measure: persons sentenced for crimes of criminal mafia association, national and international terrorism, kidnapping for ransom, international drug trafficking; persons sentenced for crimes of domestic violence and harassments; habitual offenders; the inmates who participated in the recent riots in prisons.
All offenders on home detention, except all minor offenders and those adult offenders who have to serve a sentence up to six months, shall undergo electronic surveillance
The Italian law provides for the possibility for inmates to receive parcels from outside the prison. Specific instructions are issued upon the COVID-19 emergency with regard to checking the parcels and disinfection measures. For further details see update of 27 March.
Where an inmate, already in the prison, shows symptoms compatible with SARS-CoV 2, he will be transferred to a dedicated room, previously identified by the prison governor. Here the medical doctor shall visit him. The co-inmates sharing the cell with the sick prisoner or those ones who had contacts with him shall undergo the medical screening and tests, as ordered by the medical doctor.
Pharyngeal swab sample taking: this procedure shall be carried out by the Local Healthcare Agency medical or nursing staff, who will access the prison and go in the cell of the inmate to take the sample.
Positive outcome of the swab test: the healthcare staff, coordinated by the chief medical doctor of the prison, shall assess, based on clinical conditions of the prisoner, whether he should stay in a healthcare confinement in dedicated premises inside the prison or he should be hospitalized.
Negative outcome of the swab test: the inmate shall stay in a healthcare confinement until the date set by the healthcare authorities.
Where a prisoner who is to be transferred to another prison needs to undergo a swab sample test, it will be necessary to wait until the negative outcome of said test, before transferring him/her.
Visits to inmates in healthcare confinement: direct contacts with inmates under health confinement are prohibited. Protected meetings are allowed (in premises fully partitioned with glasses and with different ways of entry) as well as remote contacts.
Provision of tensile structures which have been placed at the entries of the penal establishments, for the staff will carry out the procedures to check the arrivals;
Upon their entry into the prison facility, the staff shall make a first screening (triage) of the inmate. – The staff will be wearing the personal protection equipment (DPI);
Such examination will occur, where possible, in the tensile structure outside the prisons;
The prison physician, during the first entry medical examination, shall make all the necessary healthcare interventions;
In the cases where the healthcare confinement of the inmate is ordered, it will be enforced by placing the inmate in a specific wing – already chosen by the prison governor. The confinement shall be in a single cell, with in-cell toilet, under the ordinary precautions of healthcare confinement. The staff working in those health confinement wings shall wear DPIs (FFP2 masks, gloves and visor).
Escorted transport of inmates: only the transfer of inmates for reasons of health and those ones grounded on situation namely:
In Italy, the penal execution is regulated mainly by one Law (Penitentiary Act, Law n. 354 of 1975 and following modifications) and by its Regulations of enforcement (Decree of the President of the Republic n. 230 of 2000).
Provisions during COVID-19 pandemic:
On the occasion of the SARS-COV-2 pandemic, the following provisions were issued:
Prisoners present (as of 26 October 2020): 54,774
Staff (data as of last 30 June 2020): 40,542, including: 36,317 Penitentiary Police staff and 4,225 civilian staff (governors, administrative clerks, technicians, accountants, educators, etc.)
The stop to family visits in all our prisons is based on the Laws by decree approved by the Government last week, providing strong restrictions to the movement of the national population.
Prisoners assigned to the Medium and High security level are authorized to communicate with their families through electronic mail.
High security inmates are immediately authorized to have contacts with their families through authorized mobile phones numbers. They are allowed to use the Skype for business to make video calls with their family members who are entitled to visits.
Video talks of inmates with defence counsels are always allowed through Skype for business.
Prisoners undergoing the Maximum Security regime will continue to receive visits; such visits are in premises separated from the visitors by a glass partition. Visitors shall be invited to wear masks. Rooms will be sanitized after the visit.
In the Italian prisons, visits from families are taking place. Last 30 June 2020, after the restrictions of the previous months, the Prison Service Headquarters issued provisions regulating the access of family members to visits in prisons, based on the considerations made by the Technical Scientific Committee, a national body in charge of providing advice to the whole Government on the issues related to the SARS-COV-2 pandemic. Today, the inmates can receive at least one visit per month, even of a longer duration than the usual (e.g. two or three hours instead of one), within the maximum limit provided for by the law according to the category which the inmates belong to. The visits shall be carried out in the full and strict compliance with the healthcare and law provisions currently in force concerning hygiene and social distancing. In many prisons, glass or Plexiglas partitions were installed in the visits halls to that purpose. Specific provisions were issued in each prison to regulate the access of visitors, in close cooperation with the Local Healthcare Service of the community. The inmates still have the right to access video-calls with their relatives through Skype or other technical similar means
Continuation of the ongoing school and education courses, final exams and tests: interviews between teachers and detained students are allowed through video-conference and Skype. That is valid for prisoners assigned to the Medium and High security level.
For university courses the correspondence through electronic mail is allowed.
The procurement of more than 1,600 mobile phones and the next purchase of 1,600 more by the Penitentiary Administration. The possibility to make telephone calls also to mobile phone numbers. The increase in the telephone calls, beyond the limits set by the legislation currently in force, free of charge for all inmates.
The remote conversation between inmates and their relatives will be made through Skype video-connection as well as through video-calls between mobile phones. The possibility to have video talks free of charge for all inmates, even belonging to High Security category.
The use of the prison laundry service without expenses for prisoners.
The possibility for inmates to receive bank transfers online.
The increase in the limits of expenses for all inmates.
Staff members shall not enter the prison if they have flu-like symptoms or fever. If flu-like symptoms arise while they are on duty, they shall wear a protection mask, leave the prison and inform their medical practitioner and the healthcare authorities.
Minister Bonafede undersigned a decree providing for an early conclusion of the training basic courses which the newly recruited staff is attending; with this measure new agents of the Penitentiary Police will join their colleagues in many prisons throughout the country.
Outside the health confinement wings entrance and inside those wings, dispensers with disinfecting solutions shall be put in place in an adequate quantity.
Procure thermo-scanners to all prisons, in order to check the temperature of the staff entering the penal establishments.
The protection kit includes: googles, ffp2 mask (with filter), gloves and protective coat; all are disposable items.
The previsions have been issued by a law by decree, signed by the Prime minister; Law by Decree of 17 March 2020, n. 18.
An increase is provided in the 2020 budget for paying extra-time hours to Penitentiary Police staff and to prison governors in penal establishments for adults and in prisons for minors, to cover other costs connected with the temporary prolonged stay far from their homes of staff working in prisons, as well as to pay for the sanitization and disinfection of all the premises and facilities, for the protection of both inmates and staff.
For any further questions regarding the procedures in the state of emergency taken by the Ministry of Justice: Department of Prison Administration of Italy please contact the following:
Andrea Beccarini (Head of Unit of International relations and European projects)
Department of Prison Administration of Italy
Department of Prison Administration of Italy
Supported by the Justice Programme of the European Union