Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Italian Government's Unique Model For Addressing Crime

I admit that I do not know much about the Italian government of Romano Prodi, but I think it a fair bet that they are a left wing, permissive lot operating more then a little outside the boundaries of reality. My sole evidence for that is the rather unique approach to crime taken by the Prodi government. Faced with prison overcrowding, the government response was to throw open the doors of jails, releasing some 15,000 prisoners in a massive amnesty program of criminals with three years or less remaining on their sentences. No doubt to the amazement of the left, Italy has since found itself in the grips of a massive crime wave. One can only imagine Prodi's ministers sitting in their offices, racking their brains trying to determine what possibly could be the cause:

Armed robberies of Italian banks and building societies have soared after a controversial prisoner amnesty in the country's crowded jails.

Last year's indulto, or pardon, for prisoners with less than three years left to serve caused uproar.

More than 15,000 inmates were released. Within hours, dozens had been arrested and sent back to jail after reoffending. New crime figures have again fuelled the controversy.

The number of bank robberies has risen nationwide, official statistics say, including a staggering 102 per cent increase in Piedmont, in the north.

There have also been marked increases in Veneto (85.1 per cent) and the Marche region (86.9 per cent), where, after a three-day series of bank raids that netted more than £70,000, police arrested six people and found that all had been released under the amnesty.

In Turin, three men arrested for holding up a bank inside a hospital disguised as doctors were also found to be pardoned ex-prisoners.

One ex-convict, released after serving seven years for armed robbery, was arrested as he fled the scene of a raid in Milan and told police: "I needed the money to visit my girlfriend in Cuba."

In another case in Milan a man who was released early from a 10-year sentence for robbing 25 banks was back inside within a week after holding up several cashiers. He was arrested after one of them recognised him from an earlier hold-up.

There were 194 bank robberies nationwide in the month before the amnesty was introduced last July. After the law was passed by Romano Prodi's centre-Left coalition that figure rose steadily, peaking at 332 in October - at an average of more than 10 a day.

When the amnesty was introduced, Italy's prison population was 62,000; its jails have a capacity of 45,000. Ministry of Interior officials told The Sunday Telegraph that so far 26,000 prisoners had been released and that more than 3,000 - or 11.5 per cent - had been sent back to jail. The amnesty has come in for scathing criticism from the opposition, with the Alleanza Nazionale leader Gianfranco Fini saying: "The law is an insult to law-abiding Italian citizens." . . .
Read the entire story here.

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