• Immigration, Politics, Social Discord and Criminality in Italy

      Lorenzini, Pietro (2012-10-19)
      The initial studies concerned with immigration in modern Italy emerged in the 1970s. They provided basic statistical information regarding the national origins, gender, religious identity, and racial and ethnic make-up of the migrants. As such immigration studies were commonly written within the framework of human rights, they were politicized in ways which often unveiled the political slant of researchers. Italian studies which touched upon immigration’s relationship to criminality similarly demonstrated that questions regarding crime and migration are intertwined with contemporary Italian politics. Thus published studies which analyze immigration, crime and imprisonment often reflect the political bias of the researchers. By looking directly at Parliamentary laws and regulations, as well as analyzing government reports on immigration, crime and prisons, however, this study seeks to provide a non-partisan summary of immigration’s true impact on law and crime in Italy. Key to the unbiased assessment of the relationship of immigration to social discord is the objective analysis of the statistical evidence provided in government reports on penitentiaries, crime and immigration. Therefore, though fully reviewing scholarly publications, this study depends in a fundamental way on statistical evidence regarding crimes and criminals as provided by the Italian Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Justice and Department of Penitentiaries. In particular, to further explore the link between immigration and crime on a macro-level, this study seeks the aggregate impact of immigration on criminality by paying particular attention to the Italian government’s statistical reports covering the period from the early 1990s through January 2012. While scholarly literature has not provided definitive proof linking immigration to increased crime rates, this study suggests that statistical evidence clearly demonstrates that immigrants do in fact constitute an alarmingly high percentage of those incarcerated in the Italian penitentiary system. Increased immigration has thus led to the imprisonment of large numbers of immigrants who have turned to criminality. A preliminary explanation offered herein suggests the significantly high immigration incarceration rates result from: the continued flow of massive numbers of immigrants into a nation socially and economy unprepared to deal with massive migration; governmental inability (largely due to a polarized national debate over whether it is necessary to stem massive immigration or not) to forge a comprehensive immigration policy which seeks to rationalize immigration laws; lack of legal jobs available to illegal immigrants and the concomitant existence of ample criminal opportunities to meet immigrants’ daily needs.