The establishment of a new probation system: the Italian Probation Service

A lot has changed for the Italian Probation Service in the last two years. In 2015, they were separated from the Prison Service and combined into an entirely new department together with the Juvenile Justice and Community department. They did not only have to move all staff and material recourses, but a whole new organisational structure had to be developed. Ms. Lucia Castellano, Director General of this newly created department, tells us about the big developments that took place.

The Italian Probation Service had an important reasons for the reformation of their probation system: “We wanted to improve the probation system, start with implementing community sanctions and measures and of course reduce the amount of offenders in prison”, says Ms. Castellano. “We are committed to support and apply the legislative reforms, we will bring our country up to European standards concerning probation.”

Changes

The entire department had to get used to the organisational changes that have been implemented in the last two years. “The main issue for the probation officers was that they had to shift from case management on individual basis to regional management of interventions both in juvenile and adult justice”.

The reformation also created space for a lot of new professions in the probation department, such as psychologists, cultural mediators or volunteers. They work in co-operation with the probation officers both from juvenile and adult justice.

Alternative sanctions

The Italian government gives particular attention to the execution of sentences in the community, not only by adjusting legislation, but also by concrete actions.

In 2014, a law was issued that established the possibility to impose alternative sanctions for offenders. “Such measures were already provided for juveniles since 1988. This law is an important part of the establishment of the Juvenile and Probation department.”

Since the issuing of the law the number of alternative measures to detention grew. “In 2015 39.274 offenders were sentenced alternative sanctions, in 2017 this number raised to 46.778. The introduction of alternative sanctions and measures net-widened the Italian criminal justice system.”

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