Italy's prison population was 53,700 as of February 2021. Nonetheless, the operational capacity of Italian prisons was about 50,600 inmates. Prison overcrowding is a serious concern in the country, with some of the facilities recording an overcrowding rate of more than 180 percent. For instance, a prison located in the Southern town of Taranto, in the region of Apulia, was occupied at 196.4 percent of its capacity in 2021, representing the most overcrowded penal institute in Italy. However, the number of inmates decreased in 2020 and 2021. Due to the coronavirus crisis, certain prisoners were released under supervision in order to reduce overcrowding and decrease the risk of infection.
The most common crimes committed by inmates of both genders in Italy are drug crimes, robbery, and theft. Demographic data on the prison population in Italy show that prisoners aged between 50 and 59 years make up the largest group of detainees, with 9,500 individuals. In regards to educational level, the largest group of prisoners hold a lower secondary school degree, namely a middle school certification. On the other hand, inmates with a professional school degree or a university degree represent the smallest incarcerated population. Although women are a small fraction of all prisoners, there are a considerable number of mothers living in prisons with their children. In 2020, there were 34 mothers with 40 children in prisons in Italy.
In addition to overcrowding, several problems affect Italian penal institutes. The number of suicides among prisoners has brought attention to the mental health status of detainees. Between 2000 and 2020, the number of prisoners who who took their life peaked in 2009 at 72. Despite a slight decrease in the following years, the number of suicides has increased between 2018 and 2020. In fact, the number of attempted suicides has grown over the past few years. A further problem of the Italian prison system is the tough conditions for Mafia prisoners. In 2019, the European court of human rights (ECHR) ruled that the Italian prison system for Mafia inmates must be reviewed, as the conditions under which they are serving their sentence violates their human rights.
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In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 27 most important statistics relating to "Prisons in Italy".