Alvise Sbraccia, Associate Professor at the Department of Legal Studies, Alma Mater University of Bologna.

Based on interviews with prison staff, on the analysis of the official and unofficial reports about the spring 2020 protests and uprising which posed the most serious challenge to the Italian prison system in the last 40 years, and on the study of the most recent normative changes about prison surveillance and everyday-life, the paper will develop a critical overview of the last years’ events in the national correctional archipelago.

In these years prison conflicts and violence appeared to reach an important level of intensity and even a significant media coverage. While, according to a traditional framework, a dominant institutional narrative tended to attribute to irrational and purely destructive inmates ordinary problems and peaks of opposition (revolts), the attempt will be here the one of interpreting such conflicts within the analytical spectrum of the clash of rationalities. Pandemic and post-pandemic effects on the Italian prison will therefore be intended as symptoms of an ongoing institutional crisis that needs to be understood inside a political framework.

Image: San Vittore Prison