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

Amsalem demanded statistics on the level of crowdedness 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.

Internal Affairs Committee Chairman MK Amsalem during tour of Hasharon Prison: ”Monkeys in the zoo have more living space than inmates”

(MK David Amsalem)

Akram Hasoon (Kulanu) said 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 NIS 3 million in each prisoner. ”The question is whether we are making correct use of this money. Is there continuity between the welfare authorities and the IPS?”

MK Osama Sa`adi (Joint 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.”