Keywords: Political Violence; Counterterrorism; Comparative Criminology; History of Prison; Northern Ireland Conflict; Lead Year; Maximum-Security Prison.
The decades between the end of 1960s and 1980s have been characterised by radical transformation, drastic changes and an escalation of political violence. Through a comparative socio-historical approach, this paper will explore the British and Italian state actions in dealing with forms of organised political violence. The aim of this work is to investigate the role of punishment and penal policy in the design of counterterrorism strategies by comparing the Italian and British struggles against forms of organised political violence between 1969 and 1983. Specifically, this work considers and moves from the employment of categories like the internment and the criminalisation of political violence, commonly used to frame the Northern Ireland conflict, to analyse the counterterrorism strategies adopted by the Italian state during the 1970s and the 1980s. The paper aims to shed light on the role played by the prison system in the state action against organised political violence and wants to stress both the transformative impact of combining penal and counterterrorism policies, and the backlash effect of repressive punishment.