Sabato, 22 Settembre 2018
SASSARI

No plans to reopen Asinara says minister

English
© ANSA

Sassari, July 9 - The government does not plan to
reopen the once-notorious prison island off Sardinia to ease
Italy's chronic jail overcrowding, Justice MInister Anna Maria
Cancellierei said Tuesday.
"There is absolutely no plan," she said at the inauguration
of a jail near Sassari, although the government would consider
the idea if mooted by the Sardinian government.
In March then Justice Minister Paola Severino said Asinara
and another ill-famed former prison islands, Pianosa off
Tuscany, could be used again to ensure maximum-security regimes
for mafiosi and ease overcrowding.
Severino said the costs might be "high" but "if we were
able to meet those costs we might think of reopening them".
Some politicians welcomed Severino's idea but local
officials, especially in Sardinia, were critical.
A government spokesman confirmed last month that plans to
reopen Pianosa, which was used for high-security prisoners in
the 1990s, would go ahead.
Residents hoping to develop the island's tourist industry
were frosty about the notion.
Pianosa, perched in the Tyrrhennian Sea halfway between
Elba and Corsica, was preparing to develop a tourist industry
after the penal facility was closed.
Local officials had hoped to capitalize on the fact that
paradoxically, Pianosa's top-security facilities actually helped
to saved its natural environment from developers.
Like Elba, which has built up a local lore based on
Napoleon's famous exile, Pianosa had considered the
possibilities of capitalizing on its past as a penal colony,
which stretch back to the time Roman Emperor Augustus had his
former favourite Postumus marooned there.
Pianosa is part of an archipelago made up of Elba - the
largest of the islands - Capraia, Giglio, Gorgona, Giannutri and
Montecristo, setting of Alexandre Dumas's novel The Count of
Monte Cristo.
Prison overcrowding has been an enormous social and
political problem for the government and suicide rates among
inmates have continued to rise despite efforts to find
alternatives to custodial sentences.
The government recently vowed to build more prisons, give
more offenders non-jail sentences and release more prisoners to
meet European demands that the inmate-to-capacity ratio falls to
"humane" levels.

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