Letta cabinet approves prison decree to reduce overcrowding
Court of Human Rights ordered Italy to fix problem by year's end17 December, 19:46
Premier Enrico Letta said that while ''citizens have nothing to fear from these measures'', the decree will reduce chronic overcrowding and bring Italy's prison system up to EU standards. The European Court of Human Rights in January ruled that overcrowding in Italy's prisons violated basic rights, ordering the government to fix the problem within a year.
President Giorgio Napolitano followed it up by repeatedly calling on parliament to fix prison conditions in Italy.
''The decree is a first, significant response to the president's call for action. It will also avert sanctions from international organisms," the premier said. "It is important to avoid Italy being held up as one of the countries that doesn't respect prisoners' rights''.
The decree calls for a national ombudsman for prisoners' rights, Letta said. "Judges will still have the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to grant an amnesty or to reduce a sentence," the justice minister told reporters. Electronic ankle bracelets will be used but only for those under house arrest, she added.