Italy’s prisons are full of immigrants

Inmates stand behind bars at the San Vittore prison as protests broke out following restrictions that were imposed on family visits to prevent coronavirus transmissions, in Milan, Italy, Monday, March 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
By Lucie Ctverakova
4 Min Read

According to data reported on by the Il Giornale daily, foreigners make up 32 percent of the Italy’s prison residents. It means that the number of non-EU citizens who committed crimes in 2021 is equal to one-third of the total. According to the data released by the Department of Prison Administration, as of last Oct. 31, there were 54,307 inmates in Italian prisons, of which 17,315 came from a foreign country. At the end of 2020, when the number of inmates was higher, there were 19,900 foreigners. At the end of 2019, it was 20,200 foreigners.

According to the Antigone report, the presence of foreign prisoners in Italian institutions is not uniform both at the regional level and the individual prisons level. In fact, in some institutions, regardless of their size, there is a very high presence in absolute or percentage terms, while it happens that in other facilities, the presence of foreign prisoners is reduced to a few individuals. In some prisons, foreigners make up to 78 percent of the total number of prisoners, though.

Examining the data, it turns out that 80 percent of crimes are committed by illegal immigrants or by people staying in Italy illegally. Considering that 67,040 illegal immigrants landed in Italy during the past year, compared to 34,154 in the previous year and 11,471 in 2019, the trend could vary a lot in the current year.

“The data linked to arrivals is alarming,” Undersecretary of the Interior Nicola Molteni explains.

“Of these 67,000 migrants, 40,000 arrived on small boats, rafts, or sailing ships and about 10,000 through those NGOs operating in the Mediterranean in violation of international conventions, laws, and regulatory provisions. Especially dramatic is the comparison with previous years. It means that the post-Salvini immigration management policies both nationally and supranationally have been unsuccessful,” he noted.

Molteni added that at a time when illegal and out-of-control immigration increases, there is also an increase in other crimes alongside the more common domestic crime that unfortunately exists, and the police forces deal with. These crimes include drug trafficking, drug dealing, and crimes linked to the Nigerian circles operating in many parts of the country.

As far as complaints are concerned, the percentage of those made against illegal migrants amounts to 70 percent. In short, those who do not have the right papers cannot find a job and, therefore, enter organized crime circles or end up in prison. That raises the long-standing problem of repatriation, which is insufficient and poorly organized.

From July 2020 to August 2021, there were only 4,321 people repatriated. Crimes committed by foreigners mostly concern drug dealing (20 percent of the total), child prostitution (10 percent), negligent injury (9 percent), homicides (8 percent), falsification of documents (8 percent), theft and robberies (6 percent). Furthermore, out of 62 femicides that took place in 2021, migrants were responsible for 27 percent of those.

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