“In Italy the public does not know enough […] what certain Italian prisons wear Operation Enduring Clusterfuck Covid 19 2020 Shirt. You have to see them, you have to be there to realize them.” These are the opening words of a touching speech by Piero Calamandrei in the Chamber of Deputies: it was 27 October 1948. The date says it all. And today, after more than sixty years and the testimony of great men? Overcrowding (20% compared to the general capacity, but with facilities in which it is more than 200%), the age of the buildings, difficulties to ensure adequate personal hygiene, reduced possibility of physical activity, suspension of affections and sexuality. As the most recent Antigone report reads, “all aspects of prison life impact on health and well-being/personal malaise”..
But beware, there is a radical and absolute problem with respect to individual integrity: it is the effects of the same prison regime on incarcerated bodies. There is a large number of studies on diseases related to imprisonment or which in the prison system become dramatically pervasive and among them, of course, infectious diseases, the most important problem alongside mental disorders and gastroenterological disorders. No need for science to understand that in prison there is the understanding of all the conditions that facilitate the spread of infections and lower the immune defences making inmates more vulnerable. While it is a fact, also this indisputable, that the diagnosis and treatment of diseases in prison follow slow and farcimate paths.
Vulnerability is a structural pathology of the inmate. In this context, coronavirus has also arrived in Italian penitentiaries. We know this through the account of haggard journalistic interventions, while unfortunately – and it is of particular concern – real data on the daily spread of contagion in prisons are not disclosed.
It is certain, however, that the institutions are completely unprepared to deal with the emergency.
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Let’s think about the most common recommendations that we have now memorized: avoid personal contacts, wash hands often, disinfect surfaces, use a mask. We are “bombarded” by indications from the authorities and the media about personal hygiene and the need to maintain safe distances. The lockdown is aimed at just that, in the awareness of the extraordinary pervasiveness of the virus. The rooms have thinned the seats, the factories are closing. The park ride has also become the subject of a ban on criminal penalties for the risks it would pose to collective health.
People in prisons, writes the WHO Regional Office for Europe in a valuable paper on 15 March, “must enjoy the same standards of health care available in the external community, without discrimination on the basis of their legal status.” So why put thousands of people in prison at a very serious risk, why accept that they may die as a result of contagion, made highly likely by the impossibility of following those prescriptions whose non-compliance in the free world is even sanctioned? Why overlook the same danger to the whole community of people who serve their service every day, with commitment and professionalism, in prisons?
Again, we all live in this dramatic period a widespread and pervasive anguish: let us then ask ourselves what can determine, even clinically, these tensions in people who, on the one hand, can not physically operate the distance practiced by free men and, on the other, do not have the freedom of the connection via the web, the tool that allows contact with the affections and gives comfort and reassurance. It is clear that all this is resolved in treatments contrary to the sense of humanity, antithetical to the objectives of resocialization and in blatant violation of the fundamental rights of the individual.
We must immediately, without losing a day, resort to urgent and incisive measures before prisons become hotbeds of the virus with dramatic consequences on people and on the organization’s own estate: let us think about what would happen if the virus spread even among the staff who with great effort and humanity manage the facilities and guarantee safety. So here are the fundamental guidelines for action. First of all, transparency towards the entire prison community: the specific data of the contagion of prisoners and prison staff must also be known on a daily basis in order to adopt the most appropriate remedies in a timely manner. Secondly, a measure of substantial deflation of the detained population that drastically eliminates overcrowding. In this sense, among others, the Association of Professors of Criminal Law and the Union of Criminal Chambers have published proposals that can be shared and immediately translated into rules to buffer the current situation through a reduction in the number of prisoners. It is an indifferible first step because only the drastic reduction in the number of prisoners can allow the creation of spaces where personal distance and quarantine can be practiced for infected persons.
It is also essential to place those who leave the prison, in the absence of suitable home accommodation, at facilities in which to practice isolation: holiday homes and hotels could now be used for the quarantine of people at risk. Thirdly, urgent internal organisational and health measures must be taken, including, the widespread distribution of disinfectants and gloves, the obligation of masks when safety distances cannot be exercised, forms of isolation and monitoring of positive subjects. Finally, a clear regulatory provision that limits new entries to the maximum by suspending enforcement orders for large categories of crime is essential.
Pending, the supervisory judiciary, at the urging of lawyers always engaged even in dramatic moments in many areas of the country, provides with the utmost commitment to allow the escape from the prison circuit of fragile people, suffering from diseases most at risk in case of contagion, as well as those who have already obtained benefits and a positive evaluation of the observation and treatment team. So let’s not turn our heads the other way. Powerful came, after the Angelus on Sunday, the Pope’s warning: overcrowded prisons “could become a tragedy. I ask the authorities to be sensitive to this serious problem and to take the necessary measures to prevent future tragedies. These days, in which we have all strengthened the feeling of being part of the same humanity, are therefore perhaps a unique opportunity to overcome what Pope Francis himself calls the “throwaway culture” and to overcome all the deepest resistance towards full inclusion of prisoners in our community.
As the philosopher Byung-Chul Han said in a recent interview with Die Welt, society shows “its inhumane traits” at this time: the other is mainly a potential carrier of viruses, from which we must be far apart, because it threatens our survival. But, as the philosopher observes, if we do not want our lives to be transformed into pure survival after the epidemic and ourselves into a kind of virus that multiplies and threatens others, we must be able to make the cure of good life prevail even now compared to the pure and wild struggle for survival. And the good life, you also buy Operation Enduring Clusterfuck Covid 19 2020 Shirt at Moteefe decency of a society and its conscience, have always found in the conditions of prison its own naked mirror detector. We too, like the Members to whom Calamandrei appealed, on the threshold of prisons are destined to rediscover the shadow of our own pain and the ‘shrewd guidance’ of our awareness.