Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter accepted a series of recommendations Wednesday made by Prisons Service Commissioner Ya'acov Ganot that constitute a massive reorganization of the Israel Prisons Service (IPS). The recommendations were composed following a series of meetings between the leading officials in the IPS and the ministry, led by ministry director-general Ronny Falk.
Among the changes was the redistribution of the sectoral framework, through which the four geographic "blocs" into which the country's prisons were divided were redistributed into three "districts." IPS officials said that the change will reduce the number of staff officers employed by the organization, enabling the IPS to deploy a greater amount of manpower and resources to units operating in the field.
In accordance, the new districts will have new allocations of manpower, including assigning the position of district commander to IPS officers with the rank of warden.
The reorganization was initiated due to the 100% increase in the number of prisoners held by the IPS over the past three years. In 2003, the number of prisoners in IPS jails stood at 11,000, whereas today it stands at 22,000.
While this increase might seem alarming, it coincides with the IPS's takeover of the three detention facilities that had previously been maintained by the IDF - Meggido Prison in the north, Ketziot Prison in the Negev, and, most recently, Ofer Prison near Ramallah. The transfer of IDF prisons to IPS authority, and the projected transfer of police holding facilities to IPS authority, were both part of a plan that aims to see the IPS as the sole national penal authority.
Dichter said that a further benefit of the restructuring was that it would allow a greater number of senior officers to gain the experience necessary to compete for the position of IPS head. In previous years, the candidates' pool was so limited that officers were brought in from the police force to run the service.
This newest step in the overhaul of the IPS - the reorganization of districts and manpower - is expected to be under way in the near future, following the personnel reassignments necessary, including the naming of the district commanders.