Prison decree passes in Lower House to ease overcrowding

Italian jails packed beyond capacity

Prison decree passes in Lower House to ease overcrowding

Rome, August 5 - A government decree to tackle prison overcrowding passed in Italy's Lower House on Monday with 317 yes votes, 106 no votes and one abstention. The decree will now return for a vote in Senate. The measure, drafted by Justice Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri, provides for detainees convicted of minor crimes to serve their term by doing social work outside prison. The objective is to cut the number of inmates by 6,000 people in the next two years, Cancellieri said. Italian jails are today holding 20,000 detainees beyond their capacity, Cancellieri said, stressing that the 47,000-capacity was actually only on paper as a number of jail units are currently closed for renovation. Italy has been given a year by the European Court of Human Rights to correct the "degrading and inhumane conditions" in its prisons and to pay 100,000 euros in damages to seven inmates who were detained in less than three square meters of space.

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