Lombardy prison guards to study religions

An initiative coordinated by Milan’s Caritas.

Experts from different faiths have formed a group to hold a series of seminars in Milan for Lombardy prison guards, aimed at creating more respect for prisoners’ different religious requirements.

With the proportion of foreign detainees in the region’s jails reaching over 46 per cent, it is becoming urgent for jail staff to be aware of prisoners’ rights, religious rules and practices, but also to recognise signs of radicalisation in the fertile breeding ground of jail life, says Mons. Luca Bressan, president of Caritas Ambrosiana.

An action group has formed to start with three one-day seminars, concentrating for the moment on the three monotheist religions – Christianity, Judaism and Islam – and explaining their common points as well as their distinguishing differences.

The lessons will range from issues connected with prohibited foods, to religious and spiritual assistance by outside counsellors, to the relationship between ethics and religion in each tradition.

The back story of terrorists shows that radicalisation doesn’t happen in the mosques but in the underworld,” says Hamid Destefano from Coreis, the Italian Islamic religious community. “And since inmates come from criminal backgrounds, we need to pay a lot of attention to jails, and avoid letting people get isolated by belonging to specific groups.”