Italy has been fined by the European court for violating basic rights of prison inmates due to massive overcrowding at the country’s incarceration facilities.
The European Court of Human Rights read the verdict against Italy on Tuesday, reporting that the living condition of the inmates in the country does not live up to the European Convention on Human Rights’ prohibition against torture and human or degrading treatment.
The court therefore ruled the country to be fined 100,000 euros (USD131,000) and ordered them to make required changes within a year.
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano called the decision a “mortifying confirmation” of the country’s inability to assure basic rights for its convicts.
At the moment, the capacity of Italian jails are at 45,000 places however closer to 68,000 are detained resulting in major problems concerning sanitation, healthcare, and the rehabilitation of inmates.
Seven inmates in two separate jails appealed to the court in 2009 over the crowded living conditions in the nine square-meter (10.8-square yard) cells, which are shared by three inmates, giving each prisoner 3 square meters (3.6 square yards) of personal space. The convicts also complained over not having regular hot water or lighting.
The Italian prison rights group Antigone has reported that the country’s incarceration facilities are running at 142 percent capacity, with some jails at 268 percent capacity.
The court addressed this case as a pilot judgment, giving guidelines on how future cases should be ruled.
Currently at the European Court, there are several hundred of related complaints regarding prison overcrowding in Italy waiting to be ruled on.