Slash

Italy's Ucciardone prison had a reputation for being more of a five-star hotel than a lockup for criminals, but a new policy calls for a shutdown of...

Caroline Ku
Caroline Ku on July 26, 2011.

For decades Palermo’s Ucciardone prison has been known to its inmates as “The Grand Hotel” – a place where not even a custodial sentence could prevent well-connected mafiosi from enjoying the pleasures of a fine meal and a well-cut suit.

One mobster, Michele Catalano, was even able to hold a champagne and lobster birthday banquet in the gym of the Sicilian jail, while a fellow godfather arranged a formal wedding for his daughter in the prison chapel.

But the new governor, Rita Barbera, is calling an end to the good times, starting with a ban on several designer labels such as Prada, Gucci, Valentino, Versace, Louis Vuitton and Armani.

“The popular image of this jail is linked to the silk suits of godfathers and we need to cancel that image,” she was quoted as saying to La Stampa newspaper. Tom Kington/The Guardian.

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