Regina Coeli (prison)
Regina Coeli (Latin for "Queen of Heaven"; Italian: Carcere di Regina Coeli [ˈkartʃere di reˈdʒiːna ˈtʃɛːli]) is the best known prison in the city of Rome. Previously a Catholic convent (hence the name), it was built in 1654 in the borough of Trastevere. It started to serve as a prison in 1881.
The construction was started by Pope Urban VIII in 1642, but his death stopped the works and the complex remained unfinished. Between 1810 and 1814 the former Catholic convent was confiscated by Napoleonic French forces, who suppressed all religious orders in territories under French control during the Napoleonic Wars. While the complex was returned to Carmelite nuns shortly afterwards, they abandoned the convent in 1873. The newly established Kingdom of Italy confiscated the complex and decided to turn it into a prison in 1881. The refurbishing was carried out by Carlo Morgini and was completed only in 1900. A new complex housing a prison for women, dubbed "Le Mantellate" was erected nearby on a place also formerly occupied by a Catholic convent.
While serving as a prison and jail, since 1902 the Regina Coeli also served as a police academy and one of the first schools in Italy to focus on forensics and criminal anthropology. During the times of Fascist Italy the prison served for detention of political prisoners. In 1943, the Nazis rounded up and imprisoned over 1,000 Roman Jews in the Regina Coeli prison.
In modern times the prison complex can house up to 900 detainees.
Joseph J. Henn, a Salvadoran and former Catholic priest who fled to Italy, was held in the prison in 2019 before he was extradited to the United States, where he faces sex abuse charges in Arizona.
- Olga Touloumi. The Prison of Regina Coeli: A Laboratory of Identity in the Post-Risorgimento Italy. MIT Thesis, 2006