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Italy: On conditions in Mammagialla Prison

A prisoner at the jail in Viterbo, north-west of Rome, whistleblows on laughable “protections” which were put in place at the heavily overcrowded facility when a 50-year-old officer tested positive for Covid-19.

On March 25th news arrived about a screw on duty at the prison of Mammagialla resulting positive to the coronavirus. The news was officially announced to the prisoners, with assurances that the cop had been isolated. The only measure taken to prevent contagion inside was to testing the other 36 screws. According to the prison governor, they all came back negative.

At the time of writing, 581 prisoners are crammed into Mammagialla, which has places for 431 people. So each screw watches about 50 prisoners.

Obviously, in spite of the already considerable overcrowding, the coming and going of newcomers and transferred prisoners never ceases, they only have their temperature checked in a tent set up outside the prison. No swabs are taken and after a few days’ isolation then fine, it’s off to that incubator for Covid-19, the sections.

The prison governor informed the prisoners that a section had been set up near the chief’s office where eventual positive cases would be contained (which ones, if swabs are not being done?). Doubts naturally arise, given the constant overcrowding — where has this “section” been set up?

For now they’re giving us sops: the cells stay open many hours a day, there’s “free” showers every day, “unlimited” telephone calls to non-notified numbers, “new” mattresses and perhaps also a couple more channels are available on the fucking “lies-vision.”

In spite of the prisoners’ many requests to be put under house arrest responses are slow to arrive, even for those with only a month left to serve. A surveillance judge made an appearance via the web, dispensing his proverbial wisdom to us poor sinners, but the delays concerning early releases, syntheses and various assessments are a sword of Damocles hanging over us.

As far as protective equipment is concerned there are no masks, not for everybody at least. Some of what has been provided looks like spare parts for the “swiffer” [floor mop] and I won’t say where they ended up.

~ A prisoner

This article is lightly edited from the translation of a letter at evansioni by ActForFreedom.

Freedom is currently collecting and publishing reports on COVID-19 and the situation in prisons, detention centres and other institutions states use to punish and restrict people Worldwide. If you wish to contribute or have stories you think should see the light of day, please get in touch: If needed, your anonymity will be protected and alternative forms of contact can be arranged.

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