Elton Kalica

Life sentence and the denial of affections. A convict perspective on «41 bis»

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Prison Life; Prison Visit; Prison Parenthood; Long-Term Confinement; Life Sentence; Convict Criminology.

After two decades of «war on organized crime», the number of prisoners serving a life sentence («lifers») in Italy has notably increased. More than 1.200 convicts are potentially lifers without parole ("ergastolani ostativi"). Moreover, most of them have spent several years in an isolation programme, known as «41 bis regime». Inspired by the New School of Convict Criminology, this article seeks to explore the many elements of sufferance that long time confinement produces in the affective dimension of lifers regarding parental relationships. Using an ethnographic approach, and his own personal prison experience, the author has interviewed twenty lifers. Focusing on their daily deprivation, this article reveals some restrictive practices aiming at the ban of the communications between convicts and their families. This kind of deprivation has negative consequences on parental relationships which become almost formal as visits become more and more sporadic. Long-term confinement is a prison system that punishes primarily the family members of convicts; it turns a life sentence into a real torture.

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