The entire country of Italy is now a “red zone,” not quite quarantined, but facing serious restrictions to movement and public gathering due to the coronavirus. Prisoners were told that they would lose all family visitation, even though the Justice Ministry was not taking any other steps to offer them medical care or prevent transmission in crowded conditions. In response, prisoners in at least 27 facilities revolted across Italy earlier this week, the most serious insurrection in the history of the country’s prison system.
This week, we speak with a resident of one of Rome’s working class neighborhoods, who is involved in the solidarity movement supporting the prisoners’ struggle. He discusses the prisoners’ demands for medical care, preventative measures, and a general pardon so that they are not left inside to “die like rats.” He also discusses the new practices of coordination with prisoners, family members, and comrades on the outside, which are demanded by the rapidly-changing situation. We will continue to share information about COVID-19 within the world’s prison population as it develops.