For Mutual Aid
"...What does it feel like to be condemned to lifein prison? Well, imagine that all your worse fears bebrought together."
(by an Italian life prisoner)The 1st of December 2008 is a date that some ofus wrote with big letters on their agendas: on thisday, the Italian life prisoners will begin to struggle.Not to say that their life would not be a dailystruggle, buried in the dungeons of Italian prisons,with no hope left for their future; indeed, they havenone, since when one speak about life sentence inItaly, this is meant literally: life sentence.However, several life prisoners chose to begin apublic struggle from this date on, by using themean of the hunger strike on relay: to say, thatevery week there will be a different region doingthis strike, until mid-March 2009, where the strikewill end. The mobilization will begin on the 1st ofDecember, where all regions will make a day ofhunger strike.
What do prisoners fight against?
"Not everybody knows what a life sentence reallyis. One is lead to think that it is simply another formof detention like many regimes. One is convincedthat a person condemned to ‘life’ after a certainlylong amount of time will finally be released.Maybe, once this really was the case. But now, ina country where one security emergency isfollowed by another and that is followed by yetanother, lifers have no hope of being set free.This is, in fact, a country where people are inducedinto fearing crime because this fear, rising withinthe population, can help some politicians along intheir career.Crime is considered in fact a sort of ‘illness thatpoliticians promise regularly to ‘cure’.Within this system people who have beencondemned to life imprisonment will really never bereleased!" (from a letter by Alfredo Sole, lifeprisoner in Livorno).If you are sentenced to life in Italy (and you canget sentenced to several life sentence, one of themany aberration of the penal code), this means youwill not be able to accede to any beneficialmeasures: no day leave, no parole, nothing. That'sit simply.It means the State captures your life in its totality,forever.
Support the Italian life prisoners in struggleAgainst life sentence and all prisons
Within the European Union, in theory, thelife penalty no longer exists as allcountries foresee the possibility ofreviewing the sentence and the applica-tion of conditional freedom once a certainamount of time has elapsed since aprisoner was brought into custody. This isgenerally referred to as ’a life sentencesubject to periodical revision’. The amountof time involved varies from one state toanother. It is of 26 years in Italy, 20/25 inthe UK, 20 in Greece, 15 in France,Germany, Austria and Switzerland, 12 inDenmark and 7 years in Ireland.Surely, still an inhuman violence, but atleast one can still see some little light inthe distance.In Italy, somebody decided to switch offall lights.In this country, life sentences becomesreally life covering for many prisoners dueto the fact that offenders who have beencondemned in relation to crimes classifiedas undergoing the 41bis* regime, orwhose offences are considered notcompatible with benefits given by law orare considered as refusing to cooperatewith law enforcement.This is the very moment where the Stateshows what it means by making its mouthfull of talks about so called re-socializa-tion, re-education, reintegration intosociety.Indeed, when talking about life sentence,all the empty promises and the knots arecoming to the comb: one's aims are notthe aforementioned ones, but apply amedieval punishment in a modern form:instead of physical tortures (whichanyway are also contemplated within dailyprison reality, no matter what yoursentence looks like), one found out onewhich can be better resold to the publicopinion, by capturing somebody's life foreternity, eliminating any chance for hope.The State throws its mask.
What do prisoners fight for?
In their words: "Against life sentence:because the hope towards coming freeagain is needed in order to not transforma punishment into a psychological andsocial death; the respect of the article 5 of theuniversal Declaration of Human rights dated1948: nobody should be subjected to tortures,or to a cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment orpunishment; an inquiry Commission of theEuropean Parliament about prisons in Europe."(from a letter signed by Spoleto's life prisoners toall Italian and European prisoners: you can findthis complete letter, as well as others, in ourEntfesselt coming out by mid-November).Surely, as anarchists our aim is not to strugglefor "Rights" in the first place.Still, our aim is also to create awareness andspread solidarity whenever a social, selforganized struggle outbursts and people standup against the present conditions, striving forliberation: in this sense, we see our role inwidening this struggle here on the outside,where we encounter much less limitations thansomeone locked up, in making the struggle ofprisoners ours, in not limiting it to formalrequests. Also, within also a "intermediate"struggle, each individual has the possibility todevelop affinity with alikes and deepen his/hervision of the world and struggle.That is why we understand why prisoners putforward such requests that might appear as notreally revolutionary for many, we explainedalready in our text about the hunger strikehappened in German prisons in August this year(to be found in
, September/Octoberor on the websites of 325 or ABC Berlin).We believe the role of anarchists and otherrebels to lie into radicalizing social struggleswhenever they happen, as far as we can, pushthem to their limits.
A first experience of struggle?
Italian prisons saw a high and radical level ofstruggle for many years, especially during the70's and the beginning of 80's.However, several factors contributed to breaksolidarity inside the walls: State-planneddiffusion of hard-drugs, individualization,repentance, disassociation, blackmailing ofrebel prisoners by introducing beneficialmeasures upon good behavior, psychologicalcontrol by experts and many others.No different to the development occurred in allthe rest of the world (although we refer hereespecially on the its "western" part).