JUSTICE IS RARE IN THE ITALIAN PENAL SYSTEM’S CULTURE OF GRATUITOUS VIOLENCE AND IMPUNITY

by Alessandra Arpaia

Content warning: violence, abuse, police brutality

Santa Maria Capua Vetere is a small town in the southern Italian region of Campania. A few weeks ago, prison surveillance videos emerged showing guards brutally attacking prisoners after inmate protests took place in April 2020. The footage is proof not only of the abuse of power that takes place in silence in Italian prisons every day, but it also highlights the urgent need for Italy to reevaluate its penal system. Despite being sparked by demands for better Covid protection and testing, last Spring’s protests were a culmination of longstanding issues which have characterised the Italian judicial and penal system for too long; from lack of basic hygiene standards to a general slowness in judicial processes – not to mention the extreme levels of violence perpetrated by prison guards.

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