Home » “The number of children in prison must tend to zero”: law on mothers in prison, what the proposal of the Democratic Party envisaged

“The number of children in prison must tend to zero”: law on mothers in prison, what the proposal of the Democratic Party envisaged

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One stop, at best. A leap backwards on rights, if the new League law filed in the afternoon is approved. This is the page written today in the Justice Commission in the Chamber on the rights of imprisoned mothers. A choice that bears the signature of Brothers of Italy and it is also heralded by the Carroccio who just a year ago had voted for the provision whose death is now decreed. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a series of amendments proposed by Brothers of Italywhich would have “worse not only the measure but also the law in force,” he claims Alessandro Zan (Pd).

The original proposal – The main objective of the text, presented in the current legislature by the dem Deborah Serracchianiwas to prevent children from zero at six years ended up in prisons with their mothers. To do this, the provision envisaged two major measures. The first: to posit prison as last option for inmate mothers with children in tow, to be used only if it is impossible to assign the mothers to domiciliaries, protected homes or institutions with attenuated custody (Icam). Secondly, it strengthened the alternative structures, introducing public funds to protected family homescurrently only two in Italy, in Milan and Rome, and without charges to the State.

The original bill, presented in 2019 by former Pd deputy Paolo Siani, was inspired by the death of two little brothers four months and a year and a half, inside the Rebibbia prison. In the nursery section of the women’s penitentiary, the September 20, 2018 a German-born prisoner in custody for 20 days had killed her two children throwing them from the stairs in broad daylight, despite the control systems. That episode had led politics to formulate a law, sector associations had been asking for for years, to make it almost impossible for children to enter prison. After a series of blocks, the law was approved in the first instance in the Chamber, with the approval of all the political forces of the government and the sole abstention of the Brothers of Italy. To resume it in the new legislature Deborah Serracchiani who had obtained the go-ahead for the emergency procedure.

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The text that FdI would like – Carolina Varchi, group leader of FdI in the Justice Committee, proposed that in the event of recidivism the law was inapplicable and mother or pregnant prisoners went to prison by default, without it being a magistrate to evaluate individual cases. Furthermore, one of the deputy’s amendments asked to revoke the parental authority in case of recurrence. These changes would have distorted the bill which instead aims to do everything possible to guarantee the mother-child relationship and to ensure that it is preserved in an environment as different from prison as possible. Already the law 42/2001, so-called “Finocchiaro”, established that convicted mothers, even with high sentences, could access alternative measures to detention for the principle of protection of the relationship with their children. FdI’s proposals go in the opposite direction, questioning the very right to maternity, guaranteed in Italy since the seventies (art. 11 law 354/1975) and also recognized by the law currently in force (62/2011).

For years, associations and guarantors have been fighting for full implementation of the current legislation, which in reality already provides that children do not go to prison. “The one in force would also be a good law, but it is not applied sufficiently” – says a ilfattoquotidiano.it Daniela DeRobert, member of the Guarantor of prisoners’ rights. Sheltered family homes should already be the first place of assignment for an inmate mother with very young children. In case of serious crimes or in the absence of sheltered places, the judge should send the inmate to Icam e in extreme reason in jail. However, for a long time detention in prison was decided without verifying alternative measures. And it is in this direction that FdI and Lega seem to want to recede.

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The slap to rights Il Covid drastically reduced the presence of children in prison, 24 according to the latest ministerial report, without however ever resetting it. “Even one child in prison is too many, but compared to the past now the numbers are not very high – says De Robert – On average we are talking about 20 women with children in 2022 who ended up in Icam or the women’s section. But this condition must stretch as much as possible allo zero, because prison is not a suitable place for children. There may be high security needs but we must be careful to always keep in mind that our current law protects parenting “. What is also frightening is the fact that one is being discussed possible revocation of parental responsibility. “The widespread trend is to remove parental authority from those who commit crimes, those who are drug addicts or lead a dissolute life, but this is not acceptable”, says the guarantor. A doom the regression ahead is also Louis Manconi, which recalls how political there is behind this issue. “That of inmate mothers – Manconi tells ilfattoquotidiano.it – has always been a truth factor for the prison system which demonstrates its irreformability there. A system incapable of providing with intelligence and a sense of humanity for the condition of a relatively small group of children and their mothers is irrational, a system that takes the absolutely innocent to prison, those who are not guilty or even of it, that is, the children,” he recalls. The bill has already been resubmitted by the government forces, but the fear now is that it will regress again, causing the number of children in prison to grow again. For the deputy dem Deborah Serracchiani, the move by the right is “inhuman”, because “it attacks the girls and boys of imprisoned mothers, who will continue to have to live behind bars and pay for the faults of others”. According to the guarantor De Robert “it is essential that all the issues concerning prison be an occasion for reflection, even for hard confrontation if needed, but on the meaning of the penalty in the context of the Constitution and not a flag battle”.

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