There are currently 59,523 (2,804 women and 56,719 men) people in Italian prisons but only enough room for 43,000. This is according to a report announced by the Italian department for penitentiary administration during a recent conference on health in prison.

The number of inmates who are drug addicts has gone up from 15,329 in 2004 to 16,185 in 2005. A total of 1,625 inmates being on record as HIV positive though the actual number is thought to be closer to 5,000. Suicides have also gone up from 52 in 2004 to 57 in 2005.

Immigrants in prison have risen from 17,817 in 2004 to 19,836 in 2005. A total of 21 per cent of immigrants behind bars are from Morocco; 15 per cent from Albania; 10 per cent from Tunisia; 9 per cent from Romania; 7 per cent from Algeria and 4 per cent from the former Yugoslavia.

Prisoners enrolled in professional and educational courses such as computing, cookery, agriculture and carpentry has dropped from 4,132 in 2004 to 3,541 in 2005.

Of all inmates in prison in Italy, 26 per cent have children though the number of children under 3 behind bars has gone down from 60 in 2004 to 50 in 2005.