The paper presents an analysis of the conditions of female detention within the Italian penitentiary system, based on the policy-choice methodological approach. After an overview of the general features of the phenomenon, the study aims to offer a profile of the Italian legal trends concerning female detention. The specificity of the Italian model will be analysed using a threefold approach aiming at presenting the sequence of penitentiary policies and the new juridical approaches to female detention, elaborating an interpretative model in order to retrieve the common normative ideology of the interpretative community and assessing the effectiveness of the reforms. This sociological method will allow us to unveil the on-going political narrative concerning female detainees and to detect the real impact of such new policies on the Italian female prison's population. Special attention will be paid to the latest penitentiary reform (law n. 62/2011) concerning imprisoned mothers and the children born and/or raised in prison, and to the recent and meaningful intervention of the Constitutional Court. This study aims to ascertain how Italian policy-makers have answered the question of alternative measures to imprisonment in such cases, and whether such policies have shown a real effect in decreasing the number of imprisoned babies.