6,000 prisoners walked free from Italian jails in the four days following the amnesty approved by italy's parliament last week. In Lazio 960 Italians and 546 foreigners have said goodbye to a life behind bars.

In order to reintegrate prisoners into society the government has allocated 30 million to facilitate the search for accommodation and employment and to help disabled prisoners and those with drug dependence problems.

Those released from Romes prisons will receive, a 48-hour survival kit, comprising meal tickets, bus tickets, a telephone card, a city map and toiletries.

A help desk, call centre, a legal and administrative office for foreigners and a local medical assistance centre have been set up for Lazios ex-inmates.

However, several pardoned inmates were immediately back where they started from only hours after their release for crimes ranging from breaking and entering to theft and assault.

The minister of justice Clemente Mastella has appealed to released prisoners to behave responsibly.

Mastella has dedicated the amnesty to Pope John Paul II, who appealed for an amnesty for prisoners in an address to the Italian parliament in 2002.

Crowds waiting outside jails throughout the country, watching their loved ones walking out were heard crying Grazie Papa Wotjila!

Italian prisoner rights association Antigone are now urging parliament to reform the chronically overcrowded Italian prison system.