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Quelle strane morti dietro le sbarre
[Those strange deaths behind bars]


Repubblica newspaper published a special report by Alberto Custodero on 27 July 2015, investigating deaths in custody in Italy's prisons (over 50 per year on average, 1,304 in 25 years from 1990 to 2014, when 43 people died). Beyond the fact that once they are imprisoned people are in the state's duty of care, it highlights that these deaths are often recorded as suicides in spite of the presence of elements that make such a conclusion difficult to believe. The article includes statistics on suicides and case details of some suspicious suicide cases.

In particular, these concern the dynamics leading to deaths:

"… in certain cases, the dynamics of the suicides appear mysterious if not extraordinary, scarcely credible or anomalous: for example, there is someone who strangled themself, but their feet were on the floor. Someone wet their vest before tightening it around their neck until they died. Someone died jumping off a bunkbed with a rope around their neck. Someone hanged themself using a sheet, although their blood ended up not only on the floor of their cell, but also outside of it. And someone who weighed nearly one hundred kilos hanged himself using a shoelace."

And the victims' psychological profiles:

"The strange elements also concern the psychological profile of those who appear to have taken their lives, or their situation in judicial proceedings: generally, a depressed person decides to commit an extreme gesture. Instead, in Italian jails, it happens that detainees who commit suicide are about to end their sentences, or have just repented, or they are about to repent. People who had just expressed their satisfaction for a transfer that brought them closer to their parents. Or 'guests' who were meant to testify against officers accused of violence or sexual abuses, or who had written to their relatives to complain about having been victims of beatings and fearing that they would be killed."

The report is available here

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