Vigevano, Italy – A letter from the prison

source :  Translated from Italian to English by act for freedom now!
December 2020

We are some of the prisoners detained in the AS3 women’s section of the prison of Vigevano and want to tell you how our daily life has been upturned by Covid. We too have been subjected to anti-contagion measures since last March, but the situation took a turn for the worse ten days ago when cases of contagion were discovered in the common section of the female wing. We only became aware of this when the prisoners working in the kitchen were locked up and put in quarantine which was impossible to hide as only packed lunches are now being handed out, exposing everything that is going on.
Apart from repeatedly telling us to stay calm and not worry, nothing has been communicated to formally inform us about the situation and we are still finding it hard to know the number of people affected by the virus and what measures have been taken. The only thing we do know is that it used to be an open section and now the companions of the main section are locked in their cells and sociality has been suspended. All the work and activities they undertook is now being done by prisoners of the AS. The only precaution towards us is that we have our temperature taken, when they remember.

We have been forced to submit to various restrictions due to Covid for months on end: suspension of the rare activities and courses, the priest and the nun are not allowed in, difficulty in following ongoing hearings and trials given that most of them are held in videoconference, problems contacting our families partly because they themselves are infected with Covid in some cases, suspension of visits, difficulty in treating our pre-existing conditions as nearly all hospital visits have been cancelled. However the situation is now reaching a climax, putting a strain on our ability to face the situation lucidly. After a few days in quarantine a prisoner in the common section set fire to her mattress in desperation, causing a lot of disruption and immense fear.
All of this has brought the serious lapses in the prison administration’s management of the situation to the surface, it is still unprepared a year after the start of the pandemic. Once again we are facing the implacability of those in power who are refusing to release the prisoners with light sentences or those with disorders, not even applying any of the measures included in the latest decree to empty the prisons.

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