Suicides in prison, a chorus rises from Calabria: “An unacceptable drip”


By John

The initiative announced by the National Conference of Territorial Guarantors of Persons Deprived of Personal Liberty was held in Catanzaro, Cosenza, Crotone, Reggio Calabria and Palmi for April 18th, one month after the appeal by the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella. At midday, at the same time in all the regions and in the five Calabrian cities, the names of the inmates and penitentiary police officers who took their own lives were read out. Followed by events and press conferences organized by the Calabrian territorial guarantors. On the night preceding the demonstration, the thirty-second suicide of a person detained since the beginning of 2024 was recorded. However, there were four suicides by penitentiary police officers, one of whom was from Calabria (on duty at the prison in Cosenza). .
“An unacceptable trickle”, began the regional Guarantor of the rights of detained persons
or deprived of personal freedom, Luca Muglia, present at the initiative held at the Palazzo di
Justice of Cosenza, with the participation of the municipal and provincial guarantors, Francesco Terranova
and Francesco Cosentini, organized in collaboration with the Bar Association of the city of Bruzia,
the “Fausto Gullo” Criminal Chamber and the Prison Observatory of the Union of Italian Criminal Chambers.
“We have responded to the request from the National Conference of Territorial Guarantors,
sharing the contents of the document signed by spokesperson Samuele Ciambriello and the need to
stop at the same time and on the same day in memory of the many broken lives – stated the
Guarantor Muglia –. We hope to have given an important signal and contributed to
raise awareness among legislators, civil society and public opinion. We are aware that places
municipalities, labels and stereotypes too often prevent us from seeing the real dimension of the phenomenon.
It is not so much or just a question of understanding the different causes that generate suicides in prison, that is to say
say overcrowding, staff shortages, psychological fragility and dilapidated structures, but to accept
that it is above all the weakest groups who are overwhelmed and “crushed”. The numbers say it: the
64% of people who took their own lives in the last two years had committed crimes against
assets, 60% of suicides occurred in the first six months of detention, 40% of suicides occurred
consumed beyond the first six months, with a significant percentage in the last detention period
and the involvement of many homeless prisoners. The circuit affected by the suicides is that of
medium security. Less than 10% of people with psychiatric pathologies have taken their own lives.
Added to this is the fact that prisoners are serving a residual sentence of no more than five years
there are approximately 32,000, compared to an overall total of almost 62,000 units. The regional framework –
concluded the Guarantor Muglia – reflects the national data, confirming the fact that suicides and acts
of self-harm in prison involves vulnerable people, prisoners who have committed crimes of
low or medium severity, first experience of detention or about to be discharged but
without family or social networks that can facilitate their reintegration. It is not up to the rights guarantors
of people deprived of liberty indicate the regulatory or legislative solutions, but it must be done
Soon. An unacceptable drip, there's no more time!”.