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Inmate commits suicide, 41st this year in Italian prisons

Overcrowding plagues the country's jails

28 September, 14:23
Inmate commits suicide, 41st this year in Italian prisons (ANSA) - Biella, September 28 - A 51-year-old inmate in the northern town of Biella committed suicide overnight Thursday, becoming the 41st prisoner to take his own life in Italy since the start of the year.

Prison authorities say the man used his shoelaces to hang himself from the window grating of his cell, where he was being held in isolation.

The man was jailed in 2006 for a series of robberies and his sentence was up in 2014.

Figures show that 186 people died in Italian prisons in 2011, and 118 since the beginning of the year, 41 of them suicides.

Penitentiary Police Union (OSAPP) leader Leo Beneduci said that the prison situation "is a full-out massacre that needs to be stopped at all costs".

Jails contain almost 68,000 inmates compared to a supposed capacity of 45,743, prisoners' rights association Antigone said recently.

Italy's prison population is now at its highest level since World War II and recent estimates suggest it will continue rising unless urgent action is taken, with the number expected to climb above 100,000 this year.

Overcrowding is believed to be more than partly responsible for the high number of suicides in Italian prisons compared to those in most other developed countries.

"Aside from the powerlessness in front of daily tragedies, the men and women who work in the penitentiaries are frustrated by the inertia of the administrators and politicians who have abandoned them," Beneduci said.

The country's jails are still bursting nine months after the government's so-called 'Save Prisons' package aimed at ending overcrowding that has contributed to the rising suicide rate, Antigone said.

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