The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has published its report on its periodic visit to Italy in March/April 2022, together with the response of the Italian authorities (see executive summary).
During the visit, the CPT's delegation examined the treatment and conditions of detention of persons held in four prison establishments. It also assessed the treatment of patients in the psychiatric wards of four civil hospitals (Servizi psichiatrici di diagnosi e cura or SPDCs) and, for the first time, of non-autonomous elderly persons accommodated in two nursing homes (Residenze sanitarie assistenziali or RSAs).
As regards prisons, the CPT found that overcrowding was a problem, with prisons operating at 114% of their official capacity of 50,863 places at the time of the visit. Addressing the issue of overcrowding requires a broader coherent strategy, covering both admission to and release from prison, to ensure that imprisonment really is the measure of last resort. In parallel, steps need to be taken to improve the material conditions in the prisons visited.
The CPT’s delegation received many accounts of inter-prisoner violence and intimidation in the prisons visited. The Italian authorities should put in place a comprehensive strategy for preventing such violence and intimidation through inter alia the promotion of a real dynamic security approach (sorveglianza dinamica) by prison staff which would enhance control and security and make the work of prison officers more rewarding. A few allegations of ill-treatment by staff of prisoners were also received and the Italian authorities should provide improved training for staff in the use of safe methods of control and restraint, particularly of prisoners with a tendency to self-harm and with a mental disorder.
In their reply, the Italian authorities provide information on the measures taken in response to the CPT’s recommendations.