Election day also in Lazio, but for the inmate voters it will be the usual “cumbersome process”

Referendum and Administrative, on June 12 the Italians will be called to the polls. Among them are the inmate voters: even if there is to be expected (not new) a minimum percentage of those who will exercise their right to vote in prisons. In particular, in Lazio there will be 53 municipal administrations that will be renewed. “The request for access to the vote by the detainees is a rather cumbersome procedure, which risks being fruitless every time: in view of electoral consultations, it is necessary not only to inform of the opportunity to vote but to do it promptly”, he explains to Adnkronos Stefano Anastasìa, Guarantor of the detainees of Lazio and spokesperson for the Conference of the territorial Guarantors. “From the electoral card that they often do not have with them to access to the vote, it often happens that the inmates, even if informed, do not have time to organize themselves. of a fundamental right “.

“The right to vote must be guaranteed to prisoners – he remarks – In my opinion, moreover, it should also be allowed to prisoners with higher sentences”. Anastasìa then points out that “some of the referendum questions deal with issues of interest to the prison population. A large participation would therefore be desirable, but we are used to negligible numbers of voting prisoners, with percentages below 10%”. It is an issue that deserves attention and “so far there has not been”, according to the Guarantor. The procedure provides that “the detainees must materially request to be able to vote – recalls Anastasìa – A preliminary operation, even if we consider that many detainees are not resident in the place where they are restricted. For this, the information (to ensure it is the task of the Administration penitentiary) must be given on time “.

Again with regard to information on the voting procedure, “it also depends – continues the Guarantor of the detainees of Lazio – also on the sensitivity of the operators, on the organizational capacity of the institutes: there is inhomogeneity, places where there is more attention, both on the part of operators than prisoners, and places where there is less. I have seen the Regina Coeli election office working very well. It is a first-entry prison, many people are in pre-trial detention, the institute has organized itself with the central electoral office of the Municipality to ensure that even people who have arrived a few days ago can effectively exercise their right to vote “.

For its part, Alessandro Capriccioli, Lazio regional councilor of + Europa Radicali, says he went just yesterday to Rebibbia new complex, which houses more than a thousand inmates: “the management explained to me that the inmates have been informed about the procedure to be able to vote and some have already forwarded the question. In the next few days I will also go to other institutes in the region to carry out the same verification “. But – observes Capriccioli – voting is only one of the rights that is exercised with difficulty, the whole life of the detainees is characterized by slow, archaic, cumbersome and therefore penalizing procedures: just think of the waiting times that are sometimes necessary to addressing health problems, the limitation of telephone conversations which causes the illicit introduction of cell phones in prisons and therefore is a prerequisite for sanctions, the mechanism of handwritten ‘questions’ which are the only tool for expressing requests and needs “. the regional councilor needs “a modernization that allows prisoners to assert their rights more efficiently and quickly at all levels. Precisely for this reason, thanks to my amendment to the budget, in December 2020 the Lazio Region allocated 600 thousand euros for the digitization of the penitentiary institutions in the region “.

According to Paolo Ciani, Capitoline leader of Demos and regional councilor of Lazio, the time has come to open a reflection not only regarding access to the vote of the prison population. “Voting is a fundamental right that should not be lost with detention unless provided for by a judge’s sentence (the so-called ‘interdiction’) – says Ciani -, but it includes many civil practices that become complicated (at best) or they are completely lost with detention. I am referring to some paths to request an identity card, residence, tax code, to activate the requests related to citizenship rights, the invalidity pension to the INPS. Paper ‘questionnaire’ that starts from the detention section, passes from the applicant to the ward scribe (working prisoner), to the postmaster (prison police) and arrives at the prison surveillance, to be authorized and start the return journey. to ask for a phone call, an interview, the collection of mail, without considering that with the transfers from one prison to another also the threads of socialization and with families are severed. PA digital, the prison is in fact ‘isolated’ in everyday life “. Recalling the introduction in prisons of video calls, “which in fact allowed the prison system to ‘hold up'” during the pandemic, now, Ciani reflects, “it is essential not to go back, but to ensure that this political appointment – referendum and administrative – is an opportunity to keep attention towards people and the rights of the detained population high, we are talking about almost 55 thousand people in Italy and their families “.

In view of the vote on June 12, the Conference of Territorial Guarantors and the Antigone association, for their part, have launched an information campaign to encourage access to vote for all prisoners who maintain this right. “Two posters continue to be posted in the common areas of prisons – one for administrative elections and one for referendums – where inmates can read the procedures to be followed for voting”.