Rome

Decree for release of prisoners set to pass cabinet Saturday

Interior ministry plans to release up to 4,000 inmates

Decree for release of prisoners set to pass cabinet Saturday

(see related)Rome, June 13 - A decree for the release of up to 4,000 prisoners from Italy's overcrowded jails is set for approval on Saturday by the country's cabinet, Interior Minister Annamaria Cancellieri said on Thursday. Broader prison-reform plans "will take more time. We have to provide an answer to Europe this May and I intend to launch the plan for the fall," Cancellieri said. The European Court of Human Rights rejected Italy's appeal against a sentence condemning Rome for the state of Italian jails in May, giving the country one year to find a solution to its prison overcrowding and to implement a procedure for paying damages to victims. In April, Italy had formally challenged the Strasbourg-based court when it ordered Rome to correct the "degrading and inhumane conditions" in its prisons and to pay 100,000 euros in damages to seven inmates. In January the court, which is part of the Council of Europe, harshly criticized authorities for holding prisoners in crammed cells, specifically seven men held in fewer than three square meters of space at prisons in Busto Arsizio and Piacenza, both located in northern Italy. There are 147 inmates for every 100 place in Italy, the 47-nation human rights organisation said, compared with a European average of 105.

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