ADIR - L'altro diritto

ISSN 1827-0565

Religious practices and education in jail
Guarantees and the deficiencies of the present laws

Eleonora Neglia, 2001


This research questions the relationship between the religious practices and education in jail, trying to identify the guarantee and the deficiencies of the laws regulating these delicate issues. The starting point of this research is therefore an attentive analysis of the 1931 enforcement rules, of the 1975 law n. 354 and of the 2000 DPR n. 230, conducted keeping in mind at the same time both religion and education.

In the second chapter, after the analysis of the laws, the research studies the most relevant actors of religion and education in prison. The figure of the chaplain is investigated, and his actual role inside prison, but are analysed also the figure and the role of educationists, teachers and volunteers. To study these figures some actual experiences are used as case studies, as in the case of the San Michele school-prison in Alessandria and of the Pisa prison. Finally the very figure of the convict is taken into account, trying to figure out whether and how the reeducational opportunities becomes useful from his point of view.

The third chapter provides a detailed picture of the Italian situation on these issues, studying the organisation of the educational and formative activities, but also of the cultural and recreational opportunities in the Italian prisons. This research, carried out through 60 visits in 95 prisons, is aimed at providing a picture of the formative opportunities actually available in Italian prisons. In this chapter it is described also the organisation of religious assistance in prison, describing, on the basis of a wide survey, the experience of prison chaplains in Tuscany.

In the fourth chapter is taken into account the international situation. As regards religion a lot of room is given to the analysis of the debate on religious freedom in prison in the United States, with a particular concern to the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Attentively discussed is also the European IPCA conference (International Prison Chaplains' Association), held for the first time in Siena in 1998, which gave the opportunity to collect useful information on the situation of chaplains throughout Europe.