ID: COV-009 03 Nov 2020

Fears of COVID-19 Contagion and the Italian Prison System Response

Italy was the first country outside of Asia to deal with a major COVID-19 outbreak. The first cases dated back to January 31, 2020, when two Chinese tourists visiting Rome tested positive for the virus. As the number of infections surged over the next few weeks, the world watched as Italy faced the grim reality of the dangers associated with the virus and how the nation struggled to contain it. By mid-March, the entire country was in lock down. This article chronicles the impact of the virus on incarcerated persons and the ways in which the government reacted to several prison riots that took place in response to crowded prisons, the COVID-19 outbreak, and the initial lock down measures put in place. In the concluding section, the impact of Italy’s mitigation strategy on the problems of (1) prison crowding, (2) prison violence, and (3) prisoner and staff health is assessed. (COV-009)

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