Per la libertà di movimento, per i diritti di cittadinanza

Houses of detention – Information and cultural mediator/exchange counter work in Emilia Romagna region

An interview with Dr. Antonio Martelli, in charge of the project

Italian houses of detention detain mostly foreign citizens (about 30% of the whole) and thanks to Bossi-Fini law the number of migrant detainees will surely increase. Migrants often end up in jail because of minor crimes and they cannot benefit from alternatives to detention.
Within Emilia Romagna houses of detention there is a service which was born with the aim of helping migrant detainees, it is an information counter which tries to give all necessary information and to grant migrants all denied services.
This is a regional project, councils, houses of detention administrations and Regional Integration and accommodation service are involved.

Question – How was the project born?

Answer – The project comes from two experimental experiences realized within houses of detention in Modena and Bologna. Migrant detainees are the 40%-50% of the whole. After this try-outs we chose to extend the project through out the region and to have all houses of detention one counter.
This is a network project, its aim is to offer communicative paths (helping migrants in having all their rights guaranteed, helping information to spread out, creating an area where a person can find a social and psychic sustain, helping with documents, with interpreters, etc.). Those are briefly the guidelines we wish to follow.

Q – Which interventions is Emilia Romagna region bringing into act through out your office?

A – We are taking care of the network. Our main duty was to build a starting off team. The team coordinates different counters work, tries to solve problems that come inside a house of detention, the team also builds workshops like the one organized April 1. Workshop are quite important because they prepare people as well. They prepare operators. We had a workshop on Bossi-Fini law as well. We will have other four meetings/workshops on matters that were “suggested” by detainees. Our aim is to keep the project all together and it is not always easy when structures are so different one from each other.

Q – Can we make some sort of evaluation of the project so far?

A– We actually can. Last year we tried to understand how the project was felt within houses of detention. We gave a questionnaire out, operators, educators and cultural mediators answered it. Four hundred operators commented upon the first three years of such project. Ten questions wished to ask how the project integrated itself inside the place. This year we are doing the same but the questionnaire is to be filled in by detainees.
In Bologna Dozza house of detention counter also furnishes other sort of information, on labour possibilities, on health care, etc.