“Back door sentencing” in Italy: common reasons and main consequences for the recall of prisoners

    by:
  • Alessandra Gualazzi (Department of Criminal Procedure of the University of Urbino. Contact: alessandragualazzi@libero.it)
  • Chiara Mancuso (Contact: chiara@mancuso.co.uk)
  • Annalisa Mangiaracina (Contact: annalisamangiaracina@libero.it)


Italian law only provides the general conditions for the institution of recall. It follows that significant discretionary powers are enjoyed by the surveillance judges (and in particular by the Surveillance Tribunal) who evaluate on a case-by-case basis whether the commission of another offence or the infringement of parole conditions demonstrate the offenders‟ negative attitude to reintegrate into society. However, especially with reference to the commission of serious crimes, the judges‟ discretionary assessment can result in a restrictive application of the law on recall with the consequence that parolees are returned to prison even when they commit minor violations.
The Italian penitentiary system is currently undergoing a serious crisis mainly caused by prison overcrowding. This article argues that reform of the system is thus urgently needed. Such reform should be aimed, among other objectives, at strengthening the role of the bodies which are involved in the different phases of recall (e.g. social services, prison staff, etc.), in order to assist and support judges in their difficult task of decision making in an area – such that of recall – full of social implication.

Keywords: Back door sentencing, Recall, Italy

Full Text: PDF