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US penitentiaries, take that! October 15, 2007

Posted by dorigo in humor, news, politics.

For the entertaining and educative series “stay away, they’re Italians”, I am happy to feature another surprising story today. And the news comes straight from italian-loving America. Yeah yeah, Italians do it better, yum, pizza, double yum, spaghetti, triple yum, Chianti! Wow, Venice, Naples, Rome, Florence… Yesss, Ferrari, Valentino, Versace… Oh la la, Pavarotti. But aargh!, italian prisons!

It looks like an american judge, D.D.Sitgraves in Los Angeles, accepted  the exception made by defenders of  Rosario Gambino, a mafia member that Italy wanted to extradite to an italian prison. Gambino’s lawyer, Joseph Sandoval, suggested that the detention system in force in Italy for mafia bosses constitute a form of torture, and violate UN conventions on the matter. 

The article of italian law – 41-bis – questioned by american justice foresees restrictions in the number and rules for visits, limitations in the time spent socializing in open air, and other restrictions, including scrutiny of incoming and outgoing mail. It is a law enforced to prevent mafia bosses from continuing to exercise their power through contacts with cohorts. It is believed that many homicides have been commissioned by mafia inmates in the past, but Article 41-bis has reduced the power of bosses, effectively fighting organized crime in southern Italy.

After Abu Ghraib showed just how careful the US is with international treaties, and while Guantanamo is still accepting visitors, America is still capable of surprising us with a rather uncompromising view on human rights. While I cannot but subscribe to the universal application of UN conventions on human rights, I would fancy asking mr. Sitgraves whether he ever sentenced anybody to death. But consistency, so they say, requires you to be as dumb as you were a year ago…



1. changcho - October 16, 2007

Right – consistency is the key. Or is it the other way around??


2. dorigo - October 17, 2007

Yeah, being dumb also helps.

3. Vera - November 4, 2007

This could be indeed an interesting question for Mr Sitgraves… the 41 bis worked very well in reducing the bosses’ power and I don’t think it’s that horrible…

4. dorigo - November 4, 2007

Hi Vera,

in principle, 41bis is an aggravation of reclusion, which does sound as a bad thing to do. But it has, in fact, worked well to prevent mafia bosses from continuing their businesses. Probably it could be improved, but the ruling of Sitgraves really appears comical, in a tragic way.


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