The Nazareth District Court on Wednesday welcomed an agreement by the Prisons
Service to permit a convicted sex offender who denies committing rape to undergo
a course of rehabilitative therapy in prison, marking a significant change in
Traditionally, the Prisons Service only provides therapy for
convicted sex offenders who admit their crimes, on the grounds that if a
prisoner denies committing the sex offenses, he or she fails to take
responsibility for those crimes and has no insight into their
The defendant, Mohammad Badarneh, was sentenced to 14 years in
prison in 2002 after being convicted of three counts of raping a minor, but has
always maintained his innocence.
Badarneh petitioned the Haifa District
Court after the prison parole board refused his application for early release,
mostly on the grounds that he had not received any therapy for sex offenders
during his sentence and could therefore pose a danger to the
Although Judges Benjamin Arbel, Shaher Atrash and Asher Kula
rejected Badarneh’s petition, they said the decision by the Prisons Service to
consider him for rehabilitative therapy marks a positive shift in its position
regarding convicted sex offenders who deny their crimes.
In his petition
to the court, Badarneh complained that he had not received therapy, and
criticized the Prison Service’s denial of rehabilitative treatment to convicted
sex offenders who proclaim their innocence.
Badarneh’s attorneys said he
was willing to consider a private course of therapy, and then reapply to the
parole board for early release – even though Badarneh said he still considers
In the ruling, Arbel noted that the position of the
Prisons Service not to provide therapy for sex offenders who claimed their
innocence had been the accepted approach for years, but said it “gives rise to a
sense of discomfort.”
Arbel referred to a recent Supreme Court judgement
by Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, who noted that many sex offenders may deny their
guilt for “social reasons and reasons of shame,” and said that the Prisons
Service should reconsider its approach regarding rehabilitation for prisoners
who claim innocence.
Arbel said the reversal in policy by the Prisons
Service is a “real turning point” in its position.
“This opens the gates
for the prisoner to undergo treatment,” Arbel added, noting that this could
improve Badarneh’s position with the parole board. “We hope this shift will
constitute a real change in the Prisons Service’s position, and its perceptions
regarding rehabilitation programs for sex offenders who deny their
“In parallel, professional bodies within the Prisons Service
should also discuss this issue, in the light of current knowledge and treatment
methods, to find a way to treat criminals like [Badarneh].”
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