Story - NOMINEE: Claudio Menna
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In Italy the number of female detainees in prisons it’s about the 5% of the total. They live restricted in 1 of the 5 female institute (Trani, Pozzuoli, Roma Rebibbia, Empoli and Venezia Giudecca) or in one of the 52 departments present inside male prisons. Their stories are often poorly understood and for a large part of them, sons are the most painful chapter. Today are more than a hundred the child who live behind bars with their mothers. “When i entered in jail my son had 11 months” tells Gabriella, “inside the prison he quickly learned to be inmate, from the tone -“Please officer could you open me? – “Mom , when we have the interview with the lawyer?”- to the search -“He opened alone his harms and legs beside the officer”.
The prison also means detachment from own social reality, and the women are affected more roughly than men. Despite a lot of psychological and physical pressures due to the everyday life inside a prison (from a forced cohabitation inside cells often too small, to the moments of loneliness, anger, sadness and dispair) woman than man can preserve her status, keeping those habits, gestures and that everyday life which albeit played in a different reality, can assure and calm and maybe also deceive them that all that they are feeling and living it’s just a little brief which divides them to the home coming.
Type of crimes committed by women is a clear expression of a marginality’s path which often marks their lives, bringing them in jail for short and repeated stays: drugs shop and property crimes are indeed the main reason of sentence condemnation for the overwhelming majority of female inmates. Basically the female prison population is convicted to not very long sentences, excluding of course convictions for murder often realized by all those woman who lived years of domestic violence.
In “Asylum” Goffman writes:
“It is very widespread the feeling between inmates that time spent behind the bars is wasted, useless and stolen from his own life; it deals of a time that has to be deleted: it’s about something that has to be past or marked, or quicked or delayed”.
From an anonymous letter send from an inmates of Pozzuoli Female Prison:
“ I’m an inmate here in Pozzuoli and i’m writing even by all the other inmates of this prison, but none of us can sign this letter cause we could be punished and closed in insulation inside a small cell, alone, with nobody, and where you can only do your needs. First of all i want to say the most of our letters we send
you are trashed by police officers scared of what’s inside like the description of our life conditions...
We live a real hell here, we only move on with the fear of disciplinary reports, even for a cigarette, the last thing left to us...in this hell so easy to get in and so hard to go out. We want to inform you we’re living inside a cell ten of us, with a lot of humidity...in the morning we must raise up the mattress cause full of water, and when in the prison there’re visits and inspections they show them only the third floor/division, the most admissible. We’re in ten inside one single cell, and every morning we have to queue for the bathroom and to make a shower, before the hot water end...
Here we must pay everything and the prices are more than high; this is another exemple of power abuse of this institute. There’re inmates don’t conduct interviews with their parents, they have no money and it’s impossible for them buy anything. Here everything has a price, even the toilet paper. We pay every need with the money on our booklet, and often we see reported on it some expenses never realized, but nobody talks for fear of impacts. [...] We need help, here the ealth system is lacking: if you’re suffering for something in the night, you have to wait the next morning cause the nurse doesn’t want to be annoyed in the night. The medications we have on the cart is full of psychiatric drugs...
few years ago (it was easter), we all were in bed without energy. Some of us thought it was only flu, other instead were thinking it was the effect of something else...
Claudio Menna (Italy, 1985) is a documentary photographer based in Naples.
Architect , after a graduation at the Federico II University .
In January 2015 he founds with his friend Gaetano Fisicaro , Magma Photo Collective and MAG'zine , a magazine of documentary photography.
Actually he’s working on maintheme of blindness, inside an institute who accommodates children with visual and psycho-physical pathologies, and his writing a book with the participation of female prisoners of the Pozzuoli Penitentiary with photos , storytales and poems. His works are published on several national and international magazines.