Italian Judicial Courts Experiment With New Strategy To Fight Mafia

By focusing on the country's most powerful institution: The family.

From Mafia Today:

"A judge in southern Italy is pioneering a programme to help children of mafia bosses to escape a life of crime – by taking them away from their parents at the first sign of trouble.
“We needed to find a way to break this cycle that transmits negative cultural values from father to son,” says Roberto di Bella, president of the juvenile court in Reggio Calabria, on Italy’s southern toe.
This is the heartland of one of the most formidable of the country’s mafias – a criminal network known as the ‘Ndrangheta, the biggest cocaine smugglers in Europe.
Mafias are always built around blood ties – especially so in the ‘Ndrangheta’s case, making its clans particularly hard for security forces to penetrate.
“There’s a religious baptism and a mafioso baptism, which is confirmed when you reach a certain age,” says Antonio Nicaso, who has written extensively on the ‘Ndrangheta’s family dynamics.

 Mafia organisation based in Calabria, at the southern “toe” of Italy, with about 6,000 members
“‘Ndrangheta” comes from the Greek for courage
Formed in 1860s by exiled Sicilians

Less famous than Cosa Nostra (Sicily) or Camorra (Naples) but thought to be most powerful
Has global reach, and links to Argentina, Australia, Canada, and Colombia

“If it were not part of Italy, Calabria would be a failed state. The ‘Ndrangheta organized crime syndicate controls vast portions of its territory and economy, and accounts for at least 3% of Italy’s GDP”

“So this means that, often, the children of bosses – particularly the first-born – are predestined to follow in their father’s footsteps.”
“If you are a boy whose father, uncle or grandfather is a mafioso, then there’s no-one who can set rules... ”

"...The court began focusing more on the children of well-known mafia families aged around 14 or 15 who had “started to acquire the mafiosi mentality”, as Di Bella puts it, beginning with petty crimes.
So far about 15 of these teenagers – the great majority of them boys – have been taken away from their relatives and placed in care homes. But they are not in prison and they can go back home for visits every few weeks.
“This always starts with a court case,” says Di Bella. “When these children are accused of bullying, of vandalising cars or police cars, and families do nothing, then we intervene.
“Every time I have to take away a minor from a family it’s a very tough decision, I have to make a deep judgement.” But sometimes, he says, the court concludes there is no other option.
“Our objective is to show these young men a different world from the one they grew up in,” he says. 

“If you are a boy whose father, uncle or grandfather is a mafioso, then there’s no-one who can set rules – and we provide them with a context.”
The hope is that when the youngster is free to go back home permanently – when he is 18 – he will chose not to enter the criminal underworld...."

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