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NCJ Number: 76382 Find in a Library
Title: Policy of Law and Order in Italy - The Voice of the Power and Its Impact
Journal: International Journal of the Sociology of Law  Volume:9  Issue:1  Dated:(February 1981)  Pages:23-39
Author(s): V Ferrari
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 17
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This article discusses the roles of Italy's major political parties and the Government in enacting the repressive 'Legge Reale' criminal code in 1975 and the exceptional provisions passed in 1977.
Abstract: An examination of the official goals proclaimed by lawmakers when they adopt new legal provisions often reveals complex patterns of interplay between different groups in the political spectrum. The Italian legal system reflected the ideological assumptions of the Fascist regime which introduced the penal code and code of penal procedures in 1930. Thefts against property were severely punished, abortion was prohibited, masculine honor was upheld, and offenses against the State were harshly punished. The key principle to the rigid code of penal procedure was the absolute secrecy of investigation. Since the mid-1960's, the code of penal procedure had been modified by limiting imprisonment before trial, informing the accused of the prosecution, and requiring legal counsel for the accused before interrogation could proceed. Paradoxically, these reforms were accomplished between 1969 and 1975 when terrorism was a widespread phenomenom. The unforeseen turn to the left by the Italian electorate in 1975 created confusion among the political parties and initiated a regressive period in criminal legislation. A symbol of the Government's repressive reaction was the 'Legge Reale' enacted in May 1975 which restricted bail rights, increased police arrest powers, extended police authority to intern certain groups, and prevented police from being prosecuted for acts committed while on duty. In 1977, more repressive measures regarding prison facilities and trial procedures were passed with no opposition. The 'Legge Reale' was offered to Parliament and to public opinion as a means of combating fascist subversion. As a result, criticism from the Communists was mild and confused, and their attitude forced the Socialists to vote for the bill. Government propaganda claimed that the provisions were temporary and that police needed protection from unjust accusations. An agreement reached by parties supporting the majority in June 1977 bound the Government and Parliament to introduce a new series of restrictive laws necessary to preserve public order and security. No reference to fascist subversion was included because Communist party support for the majority eliminated the need for rhetoric. The Government's presentation of the exceptional laws of August 1977 emphasized that legal regulations were clogging the criminal justice machinery and never suggested that other factors, such as poor police organization, could have contributed to inefficiency. Comparative analysis of the 1975 and 1977 laws illustrates the use of propaganda to manipulate law and the relationship of this activity to the political strength of the Government. Footnotes and 25 references are included.
Index Term(s): Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Criminal codes; Italy; Law reform; Political influences
Note: Paper presented for Soziologentag, Berlin, Germany, April 1979. German edition entitled Symbolischer Nutzen der Gesetzgebung innren Sicherheit appeared in Politik der inneren Sicherheit, 1980.
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