This research provides a detailed picture of work in prison, studied from its origins. The first chapter studies the beginning of work in prison in England and Holland during the XV and XVI centuries, putting the reconstruction of those historical periods in relation with the researches by Rusche and Kirchheimer. Those experiences are subsequently compared to the American experience of Auburn and Philadelphia. Finally the research analyses attentively the Italian situation in the pre-unitarian years, with a particular concern to Lombardy, Tuscany and Sardinia.
In the second chapter the penitentiary regulations of united Italy are examined, from the first penitentiary regulation of the Reign of Italy to the rules about work of the 1931 regulation. The general conditions and organisation of penitentiary work are then compared to the republican Italy experience, and with the role of the constitution in that experience, of the science of law and of the constitutional jurisprudence. At the end of the second chapter the iter of the penitentiary regulation still in force, that is the Gonnella project, is described.
The third chapter is devoted to the analysis of the contemporary rules, rooted on the 1975 law n. 354. In that law the reeducational nature of prison work is made clear, and it is on that nature that many of the ambiguities of employment in prison depend. This situation is partially changed by the 1986 law n. 663, the so-called Gozzini law, that introduces some modifications for prison work both inside and outside jail.
The research then analyses the 1987 law n. 56 concerning employment, the reform of the 1993 law n. 296, and the subsequent reforms.
Finally the research compares the contemporary laws with the actual experience in Don Bosco prison in Pisa, with a particular concern to the effective work activities, to the formative opportunities and to the experience of the "Don Bosco" cooperative society.