Free to Choose, sicilian new generation

Free to Choose: Lectio Magistralis to the students of the Cutelli high school

In Sicily ( Catania ), the good judiciary in the hands of the future "ruling class". After the well-known news cases on the judiciary, young people feel the need to be reassured about the future that awaits them, not only as citizens but also and above all for those who want to undertake studies and a legal career.

With enthusiasm the students of the classical high school Mario Cutelli of Catania met the President of the Juvenile Court of Catania Roberto Di Bella, for the presentation of the National Free to Choose Project, which has saved many young people by making them protagonists of their own lives and choices.

The farsightedness of the project, born within the walls of the Reggio Calabria Juvenile Court, aroused much curiosity and there was no lack of refined questions from the children and teachers. The news cases told by Di Bella have traced the difficult path that led him to remove, for protection, the children from mothers and fathers in prison, through the forfeiture of parental responsibility, making use of the legal basis of prejudicial violation of duties inherent in the responsibility of the parent.

During the debate, he did not hide the fact that initially he suffered very heavy criticism, and in well-known newspapers the doubt of an Ethical State crept up, defining his actions

“judicial barbarism parallel to the barbarism of the ndrangheta”.

Even his family was initially perplexed about the choice of that judicial line, not so much because of its undisputed validity but rather because of a lack of organization and support  from the government, not yet ready for such a big change.

What would happen to the boys next?
Which family would have welcomed them, knowing where they came from?
With what funds would they be supported?

Certainly the obstacles seemed insurmountable, there were human lives at stake, their emotional balance, their adolescence, but also their future. After excited moments of uncertainty, in which one could not "experiment on the skin of minors", everything became clearer. Those prisons, "living cemeteries" of young souls, where an iron door drew the line between freedom and the condemnation of being born into a wrong family, were the impetus to fight against an ineluctable destiny.

From here was born Free to Choose. The success of the first case, masterfully described in the film “Free to Choose” produced by Rai, paved the way for other young people, who are now eighty. The opening of freedom also involved twenty-five mothers, women who escaped the physical, moral and verbal violence of the 'ndrine'.

The Ndrangheta, defined as a "multinational of crime" that pollutes the economy and corrupts the political system by funding electoral campaigns in exchange for infiltrations, despite the fact that it may appear as a strong team, has its point of fragility. The family system on which it is based, if on the one hand it may appear to be an advantage, on the other, it can produce devastating effects when it is broken. This was Di Bella's great intuition. Interrupting the assembly line by removing the children, when they are still "salvable and recoverable" to educate them and place them in the world of work after the age of majority and restore their social dignity.


The good judiciary teaches that sometimes it is necessary to make courageous choices, even against the tide, protecting the greater good. The comparison between students, teachers and Di Bella developed in a constructive way, making clear some fundamental concepts. The Headmaster Prof. Elisa Colella intervened asking for differences and similarities between the horizontal Sicilian mafia model that recruits followers and the vertical Calabrian model on a family basis.

A student raised the question of why even today there are legislative gaps to protect families, especially referring to the women of the mafia, who try to get out of the mafia grip without necessarily becoming collaborators of justice. In addition, he asked what the school can do to instill in young people more confidence in the state.

Another interesting intervention by a student revealed the detrimental function of some fictional stories on the Mafia that induce children to emulate Mafia models, outraged by the lack of sensitivity on the part of the producers of these films who do not care about the devastating effects on young people.

A student, passionate about the project, told of his experience of solidarity in the well-known neighborhood of Librino and shared his joy in seeing how small gestures can change the lives of those young people. His example is perfectly in line with the spirit of inclusion and recovery of Free to Choose. The law teacher, Prof. Santina Lo Monte emphasized how much the juvenile prison actually has a function of rehabilitation and re-education of the minor, as stated in art. 27 of the Constitution.

And then he went on to ask if in addition to the judiciary there had been "other" institutional bodies in support of the recovery of juvenile offenders. The answers to the questions gave way to enter the maze of the Project which was precisely a memorandum of understanding with the Ministries of Education, University and Research, Justice, Equal Opportunities, from the Juvenile Court of Reggio Calabria, by the Public Prosecutor's Office at the Court of Reggio Calabria, by the CEI, by the National Anti-Mafia Directorate and by Libera.

The debate ended with the President's message addressed to all young people:

“Have the ability to be indignant in the face of injustices as in small so in large circumstances, because society and relationships are also based in values built this way. Be indignant and act, never let things escalate ”.

Valeria Barbagallo


Other Blogs For Society

Here’s a brief list relative to Society .