A fate worse than death

Prisoners appeal to reinstall capital punishment

Editorial Staff
June 14, 2007

Hundreds of Italian prison inmates sent a letter to Italian president Giorgio Napolitano,requesting him to restore the country’s death penalty. More than 300 of the 1,294 prisoners currently serving life sentences in Italian prisons signed the letter, ‘asking for our life sentence to be changed to a death sentence’ because they lack any possible future beyond prison. Napolitano responded by saying that it is not up to the parliament and government to decide the fate of the prisoners’ request.


The prisoners’ plea has nonetheless incited debate among politicians, who are greatly divided on the issue. While politicians from the centre-right have firmly responded to the provocation, stating that the abolition of the life sentence would be a ‘grave error’, the centre-right has said that the state must start to consider alternative avenues to prison life that promote the social re-integration of detainees.


Italy abolished the death penalty in 1948 and has since been a crusader in the fight against capital punishment in both the European Union and the United Nations. On the whole, Italians fervently oppose capital punishment, often protesting high-profile death penalty cases at home and abroad.

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