REGGIO CALABRIA, ITALY - 15 NOVEMBER 2016: Roberto Di Bella, the President of the Court for Minors of Reggio Calabria who started a program limiting or suspending parental responsability for incriminated families of the ‘Ndrangheta (the organized crime centered in the Souther Italian region of Calabria), poses for a portrait in his office in Reggio Calabria, Italy, on November 15th 2016.
Since 2012, judges from Reggio Calabria court for minors have started a program limiting or suspending parental responsibility for incriminated families, moving children to a different Italian region and trying to create the conditions for an ordinary childhood there. Once they turn 18, they can choose whether to go back to Calabria or not.
When evidence shows that children are physically or psychologically endangered by their families’ Mafioso behavior, judges apply the same legislation used in Italy against abusive parents to parents from the ‘Ndrangheta.
So far, the program has involved more than 40 minors, boys and girls aged 12 to 16, and out of those who have already returned to their lives, none has committed a crime.
Calabria has a very high criminal concentration. Since the early 1990s, Reggio Calabria juvenile court sentenced about 100 minors for mafia association and 50 for murder—or attempted murder.
After years of work with Mr. Di Bella and other prosecutors, the Justice Ministry is now ready to standardize the procedure. Once local authorities sign the protocol, it'll become effective.
“Sons follow their fathers,” he said. “But the state can’t allow that children are educated to be criminals.”
In his project, Mr. Di Bella hoped to see the “future of the fight against mafias,” he said.
But he admitted that the project is now based on his judges’ work and on volunteers who lend their professional skills almost for free.
“We need specialists,” he said referring psychologists, host families and specialized judges. “We need norms, fund