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MK Amsalem Touring Hasharon Prison / Courtesy

“The terrible congestion in which inmates in Israel live is unacceptable,” Internal Affairs Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud) said on Sunday as the committee members were touring Hasharon and Ofek prisons. “Even monkeys in the zoo have more living space. Four and a half square meters [for each inmate] is crowded compared with international standards, and we are not even complying with that.”

Amsalem demanded statistics on the level of congestion in each prison. “Together with the Israel Prisons Service (IPS), we will develop a multi-year plan which I will advance in conjunction with the Treasury and the Ministry of Public Security,” he said.

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MK Akram Hasoon (Kulanu) said that the fact that “so many inmates are not rehabilitated and return to prison” is a “cause for concern.” According to Hasson, the state invests some $770 thousand in each prisoner. “The question is whether we are making correct use of this money. Is there synchronization between the welfare authorities and the IPS?”

MK Osama Sa’adi (Joint Arab List) said, “We must find ways to fill the prisoners’ time, rather than leave them closed up in their cells. We need education, employment and a lot of sports. In the Ofek youth prison I saw many positive things.”

IPS Commissioner Ofra Klinger said, “We have increased the number of rehabilitation frameworks. They were half empty, and now they are being filled. Prison time is an opportunity, not only for the inmate, but for the state as well. If a prisoner is given a chance to perceive himself differently, he will understand that change is possible. The state invests a lot of money in the IPS, but not in facilities. A person who lives in dishonorable conditions cannot make use of the resources at his disposal. There is no argument that we must build more prisons. Currently, some 40% of prisoners live in inadequate facilities.”

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