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The prison hospital for the criminally insane in Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto in Italy is the last institution of its kind in Europe. Persons who have committed a criminal act in a state of unaccountability and who therefore represent a threat to society are incarcerated in this institution.
Unlike a regular prison, in which a sentence is discrete in duration and determined in line with the severity of the crime, the sentence for the mentally ill does not depend on the severity of the crime committed and is not limited in duration. They are sentenced with the legally-prescribed minimum sentence (no less than two years), after which the sentence can be repeated over thirty times. In practice, this means that patients can stay in the institution for as long as forty years or, more often, until their death, which usually comes prematurely: either by suicide, or by intoxication from prolonged use of psychiatric medication.
The patients, torn between the legislative practice and the provisory approach of the psychiatrists, whose task is not to treat but rather to sedate the patients by medication in order to maintain as calm an atmosphere in the institution as possible, mostly turn to the only exit from hell on offer: religion.
The film “Controindicazione” is a story of an unbeatable system, an entity that was created and then broke free from its maker’s control. An entity that exists on its own, that no one will take responsibility for. An entity that grinds human dignity and lives.