di Francesco Musolino
(ANSA) - Rome, October 8 - Inmate population in Italy's 206 prisons reached 66,568, 20,719 over capacity, a report by the interior ministry said Monday. The total capacity nominally allowed to meet safety standards is 45,849. Foreigners in the country's detention centers number 23,838 (36%) and 2,801 are women. The report, compiled together with the health ministry said that the majority of foreign prisoners are from Morocco (4,633 inmates, 19.4%), followed by Romania (3,647 or 15.3%) and Tunisia (3,037 inmates 12.7%). Italy's prison population is now at its highest level since World War II and recent estimates suggest it will continue rising unless urgent action is taken, with the number expected to climb above 100,000 this year. Overcrowding is believed to be more than partly responsible for the high number of suicides in Italian prisons compared to those in most other developed countries. The country's jails are still bursting nine months after the government's so-called 'Save Prisons' package aimed at ending overcrowding that has contributed to the rising suicide rate, inmates' rights group Antigone said recently.