(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee reached on Tuesday a dramatic compromise to reduce the number of prisoners behind bars and the length of various prison terms in a broader effort to alleviate the stress on the system and address legal requirements.
Previously, the High Court of Justice has issued several rulings declaring the prison system is in violation of both domestic and international law in failing to guarantee many prisoners the minimum cell space required.
A range of government officials and MKs have worked on a variety of plans to grant prisoners greater cell space, but a big and controversial piece has been to systematically reduce the number of prisoners behind bars by granting early releases to a larger number of prisoners.
The police have staunchly opposed the early release idea and no deal had been reached into the late hours of Tuesday until committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky announced a deal.
Some core pieces of the deal were that on one hand early release will not only reduce prison sentences, but will also reduce the volume of community service hours imposed on convicts.
A committee spokeswoman explained that studies had found that convicts were more likely to return to crime if they were delayed too long from returning to the work force due to heavy community service requirements.
On the other hand, the reductions would not be one-third across-the-board, but will depend on the overall sentence – satisfying those who viewed the new early release principles as too lenient.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan also pledged to the committee that he would show greater flexibility in granting administrative early releases, which can sidestep the traditional parole board review process.
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