The Italian Almanac

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Back to Jail (Please)

A Neapolitan man is happily back in jail after convincing authorities - at the second attempt - that prison is preferable to life at home. "Thank goodness they've let me back inside. I couldn't stand it any more," said Franco Natale, 37, a petty thief. Natale was sentenced to a year's house arrest at the end of March.

Less than a week later he sneaked out of the house and rushed to the nearest police station, on the run from what he called "domestic madness". Natale begged to be put back behind bars but police turned a deaf ear to his pleas and took him back to his wife. Another violent argument propelled him outdoors a few hours later and a police patrol looked kindlier on his plight.

He was taken before a judge who finally granted his appeal to serve his time where he wanted - among his fellow prisoners in Naples' Pioggioreale prison, one of Italy's toughest. Natale is not the first Italian criminal to trade home for jail. There were two cases in 2004 and one in 2002 - all in Sicily.