In 2011, 22,677 people were imprisoned for drug crimes in Italy, representing an increase from 31 percent in 2010 to 33.1 percent in 2011. On a single day in 2011, 28,000 drug offenders (mostly users and small-scale dealers) were in prison, while 15,000 drug dependent people (charged or sentenced either for drug or drug-related crimes) were detained out of an overall 67,000. Half of all people detained in overcrowded Italian prisons are charged or sentenced for drug crimes or for minor crimes committed by addicts.

A three-point reform effort is underway in the country to  improve prison conditions, introduce the crime of torture into the penal code and to decriminalize personal use of drugs. The law must also be reformed to distinguish between different illegal substances and to promote alternatives to incarceration for people who use drugs.

This campaign is being led by a coalition of NGOs working in drug policy, justice, and human rights. This alliance deposited three bills that will be discussed in the Parliament, if they can attract at least 50,000 signatures (from Italian citizens) within six months. In addition, a web campaign has launched an online petition ( and, calling on MPs to endorse these texts.

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