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Italian prisoners protest paltry Prosecco ration

Inmates at a juvenile prison in Palermo, Sicily started a fire in one of the cells after they were disappointed by the amount of Prosecco they were given on New Year’s Eve.

The incident, reported by local media outlet Palermo Today, took place at Malaspina prison.

Though it is traditional for inmates to be given a small amount of sparkling wine to toast the new year with, some reportedly took umbrage at the size of the Prosecco pours and protested by setting fire to a cell (which, it is noted, is still out of use).

Two prison officers were hospitalised due to inhaling smoke from the fire.

Donato Capece, general secretary of Sindacato Autonomo Polizia Penitenziaria (SAPPE), a union for Italy’s correction officers, described the incident as a “crazy evening” and exclaimed that “it is the prison officers who pay for these absurd tantrums”. He also noted that “the timely intervention of the officers averted a very dangerous degeneration”.

db has contacted SAPPE to ask whether it will push for greater restrictions on prisoners’ access to alcohol as a result of the inmates’ behaviour. In the UK, it is a criminal offence to give prisoners alcohol.

The issue of alcohol in Italian prisons is a contentious one – there has previously been controversy regarding how prison guards at San Vittore jail in Milan plied female inmates with late night ‘happy hour’ drinks.

Some wine producers have utilised the oenological abilities of inmates. Among them is Tuscan wine giant Frescobaldi, which launched a project in 2012 where top winemakers train prisoners at the Gorgona Penal Institute, an open penal colony on the tiny island of Gorgona, in winemaking as part of their rehabilitation. Small quantities of both a premium red, made from Sangiovese and Vermentino Nero, and white, a blend of Vermentino and Ansonica, are produced. World-renowned singer Andrea Bocelli even supported the project.

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