44 deaths since the start of the year. There are already ten more than in 2023

Suicides in prison, the alarm is ringing: during the first six months of 2024, not yet completely over, 44 inmates committed suicide in Italian prison cells. Last year, during the same period examined, there were 33.

The official data comes from the National Guarantor of the Rights of Persons Deprived of Personal Liberty: “By analyzing the personal data, we see that of the 44 people who died by suicide, 42 were men and 2 women. Regarding nationality, 24 were Italian and 20 foreigners, coming from 14 different countries. The most common age groups are those between 26 and 39 years old (23 people) and between 40 and 55 years old (10 people); the rest is distributed in the classes 18-25 years old (3 people), 56-69 years old (7 people) and over seventy years old (1 person). It was found that the average age of the 44 people who committed suicide was around 40 years.”

The analysis showed that the majority of people who committed suicide in prison were accused of or had been convicted of crimes against the person (24, equal to 55%). In reference to this type of crimes, those against the person include: 10 crimes of murder (attempted or committed), 6 of domestic abuse and 4 of sexual violence. Next come crimes against property (14), under the Drugs Act (3). On the other hand, the other two types of offenses seem to have little statistical significance, such as those for possession of weapons and complicity in a crime.

The one with the highest number of suicides is Poggioreale Prison which since January 1 has had to face three, followed by those of Cagliari, Pavia, Rome with the Regina Coeli, Sassari, Teramo, Turin, Verona and Parma with two inmates who committed suicide. In total, 33 institutions were involved.

Prison overcrowding, Nordio: “Foreign prisoners serve sentences in their country of origin”

The suicide emergency is inevitably linked to the issue of prison overcrowding. According to the latest data, updated on June 12, there are currently 61,468 inmates. “The regularly available places amount to 47,067 – explains the guarantor -, compared to the regulatory capacity of 51,221. A more in-depth investigation revealed that this criticality is due to the current unavailability of several night rooms and, in some cases, entire detention sections (for example Lat San Vittore prison in Milan, where the overcrowding index stands at 230.79% and the Institute holds the record out of 190).

At the national level, overexposed criticality determines an overpopulation index of 130.59%,” adds the guarantor.

The Minister of Justice, Carlo Nordio, declared during a demonstration in Taormina that “overpopulation is the result of decades of sedimentation, there is no immediate solution but it excludes grace which, in his opinion, would represent “a capitulation of the State” and identified alternative punishments as a way forward: “Forms of community atonement since drug addicts are sick rather than criminals. Furthermore, given that foreigners make up half of the prisoners, it would be appropriate for their sentences to be served in their country of origin, we would have already solved a large part of this problem,” the head of the department said via Arenula.

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