Dozens of inmates from the Cremona prison (northern Italy) set fire to their cells last night, causing a fire that forced the evacuation of 80 of them before the flames were controlled by firefighters, to protest the withdrawal of a psychotropic drug local media report.

The alarm was triggered around 10:00 p.m. (8:00 p.m. GMT), when the inmates set fire to the sheets and mattresses in their cells and the flames and smoke spread immediately, forcing the prison management to order the complete evacuation of two floors, while the forces of order tightened security measures throughout the prison.

The fire, which caused no injuries and which firefighters took several hours to put out, was caused by the suspension of a drug that was administered to drug addicts and people with psychiatric disorders and that in prison “was used as currency,” according to the Uilpa prison police union.

The health authorities of the prison decided to change the psychotropic drug used until then for another, which triggered the revolt.

“On repeated occasions we have denounced the very serious criticism of the Cremonese prison, which adds to those common to almost all the country’s penitentiary institutes, some particular difficulties, such as those derived from not having a Penitentiary Police commander at the head for about three years and a global management characterized by continuous unrest”, said Gennarino De Fazio, general secretary of Uilpa.

According to De Fazio, “there has been hell in prisons for too long, sometimes, as in the case of Cremona, not only metaphorically” and “the serious dysfunctionality of the system cannot be addressed with administrative means alone, but is necessary the interventions of politics, the Ministry of Justice and the Government”.

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