‘Less jail time the more books you read’

Calabria’s Regional Committee has approved a bill that will reward prisoners for reading books by reducing their jail time. Under the proposal, prisoners will see their sentences cut by three days for each book they read.

'Less jail time the more books you read'
Prisoners who take up reading could see their sentence cut by three days for each book they read. Book photo: Shutterstock

Reading may be an effective way to reduce boredom in prison, but now it may soon become a way to cut jail time in Italy. 

According to a new proposal in the southern Italian region of Calabria, prisoners who take up the activity could see their sentence cut by three days for each book they read, with the maximum set at 48 days over a one-year period – the equivalent of 16 books in 12 months. 

This offer is only valid for those serving a sentence of more than six months, Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported on Tuesday.

To prevent inmates from cheating, their progress would be tracked by prison educators.

The proposal was inspired by a similar initiative adopted in Brazil, where it is known as 'Reembolso atraves da leitura' (Repayment through reading).

The bill, which was proposed by Calabria’s regional culture official Mario Caligiuri, will now need the go-head from Calabria’s Regional Council before being debated in parliament.

“Reading is an extraordinary antidote to discomfort and promotes awareness and social and personal redemption,” Caligiuri was quoted as saying by the paper. 

As well as promoting culture within prisons, the proposal would also be a way to reduce the problem of overcrowding in Italy’s prisons.

According to a report published last week by the Council of Europe, Italy has the second-highest level of prison overcrowding in Europe.

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La Bella Vita: The best Italian-language podcasts, and unexpected foods you’ll find in Italy

From Italian podcasts to surprising delicacies and our favourite overlooked travel destinations, new weekly newsletter La Bella Vita offers you an essential starting point for eating, talking, drinking and living like an Italian.

La Bella Vita: The best Italian-language podcasts, and unexpected foods you'll find in Italy

La Bella Vita is our regular look at the real culture of Italy – from language to cuisine, manners to art. This new newsletter will be published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to newsletter preferences in ‘My Account’ or follow the instructions in the newsletter box below.

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