Prisons, soon two new Rems in Lazio. Guarantor: “System works”

The Rems system works, the residences for the execution of security measures, of Lazio. And the prospect “is of growth”. This was stated by the Guarantor of persons subjected to restrictive measures of personal freedom of the Lazio Region, Stefano Anastasia, whose competence has also been extended to all restricted or interdicted persons guests of the Rems, according to the new rules introduced by the Connected to the 2022 Stability law recently approved by the Aula della Pisana. “A formalization of commitments that in part already existed – Anastasia explains to Adnkronos – With the regional law 31 of 2003, the Rems had yet to be born, now thanks to its modification the competence of the Guarantor has also been made official for the residences for the execution of the security measures, but in reality our Office has always taken care of them. Among other things, I was appointed Guarantor in 2016 when the first Rems had just been built in Lazio and I followed their entire journey. Today there are six active ones, with the prospect of having at least a couple more in the short term. Overall, today they welcome 87 guests. Initially there were 91 beds in the Lazio Rems, today we have reached 106. It should be remembered that ours is the Region that has the largest number of Rems beds per inhabitant”.

“As far as I have been able to observe in six years – adds the regional Guarantor – the Rems of Lazio work well, the spaces of the rooms are decent, the availability and qualification of the staff is good. The only critical issues to be noted are in some Rems still provisional which perhaps suffers from the lack of open spaces or remedied solutions”.

“If we refer to the treatment of mental health problems, the Rems – Anastasia specifies – are good structures, obviously they are for the time useful for detention in a closed structure. But they are not a solution to the mental health problem in prison, this must also be clear to Italian penitentiary operators. By law, the Rems are intended exclusively to accommodate people who have been judged not to be charged due to their inability to understand and want to at the time they committed the crime. mental health care in prison must make a decisive leap in quality, they must be more qualified with the introduction of a plurality of professional figures: psychologists, rehabilitation therapists, nurses who can also do the type of work in a prison environment that is being done in the Rems. It takes a lot of effort, because they still only operate with a consultancy service and that’s not going well”.

“Moreover – continues the Regional Guarantor -, a sentence of the Constitutional Court of 2019 says that serious mental illnesses are equivalent to physical ones and therefore those who are affected by serious mental illnesses have the right to alternatives to prison, therefore they must not go to the Rems but directly in health facilities in the area. Home detention or in a therapeutic community where they can be adequately assisted must be envisaged. But unfortunately this sentence has not been implemented to date”.

Thanks to a proposal by Alessandro Capriccioli, regional councilor of +Europa Radicali, the Linked Party to the 2022 Stability Law approved by the Lazio Regional Council, with amendments to Law 31 of 2003, “formally extended the Guarantor’s scope of activity to the centers of permanence for repatriations, to the security rooms of the police forces, to the Rems and to the therapeutic communities.Furthermore, among the new competences – explains Capriccioli to Adnkronos – the possibility of expressing opinions on certain measures, accessing the offices of the Region and view documents, address recommendations to the regional authorities.These are tools that were already available to the National Guarantor and which put the Regional Guarantor in a position to carry out its proximity activity even more effectively, aimed at protecting the rights of people deprived of their personal liberty A very important activity which guarantees respect for the rule of law in prisons and other places where people are deprived of their liberty”.

According to Anastasia, however, “the real novelty is the introduction of competences on RSA, also requested by the national Guarantor. It is a significant step forward”. In fact, you recall that with the new rules, the Lazio Region, first in Italy, follows up in this way on the Guidelines on the guarantee bodies approved by the Conference of Presidents of the regional legislative assemblies in 2019.

Speaking of the issue of mental health in prison, Capriccioli underlines that it “objectively represents a critical issue within penitentiary institutions, which too often find themselves managing situations outside their duties and competences. On this subject, as a deed concluding the legislature, I am preparing a dossier that we will present soon – he announces – to highlight the shortcomings of the system and hypothesize the tools that it would be necessary to put in place to try to deal with it, to better protect the rights of the most fragile people who under these conditions they cannot be exercised as they should”.