di Marcello Mento
Milan, February 6 - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano strongly denounced Italian prison conditions on Wednesday calling them "unconstitutional" during a visit to the San Vittore prison in Milan, and urged politicians and voters to make prisons a priority political issue. "No one wants to deny the gravity of the emergency" of prison overcrowding, Napolitano said. The president added that "the Italian prison situation does not permit (legally) guaranteed living space" for prisoners, and conceded that Italy violated its constitution and European Union rules by not providing humane conditions that allow rehabilitation. Napolitano called the prison issue "one of the essential rights of the State". "I am at stake, I must say, under my responsibility as president of the republic, (as are) the prestige and honor of Italy," Napolitano declared. Napolitano called for prison overcrowding to be taken up by "all the political powers and even by the citizen-electorate" in the parliamentary elections February 24-25. "I have many times, even very recently, welcomed every opportunity to denounce the unsustainability of prison conditions" and "hoped that those appeals would have been received" to a greater extent, Napolitano concluded.