Among the issues that greatly disturbed President Isaac Herzog when he entered office in July 2021 was the number of young soldiers and national service volunteers whose futures were shadowed by criminal records.
Herzog, a lawyer and former social welfare minister, was determined to expunge as many criminal records as possible, providing those who appealed for pardons could show remorse and had been fully rehabilitated.
A few months later, on the eve of the High Holy Days, when Jews traditionally admit their sins and ask God for forgiveness, Herzog announced that in the spirit of the Ten Days of Repentance, all IDF soldiers and civilian national service volunteers with criminal records who had undergone a successful rehabilitation process during their period of service, should submit a written request to the legal department in his office.
The upshot was a 25% increase in the number of pardons, including clemency for 20% of approved appeals.
How many requests for pardons did Herzog grant?
From mid-2021 to the end of 2022, 127 requests for pardons and clemency were granted by Herzog; 74 in 2021 and 93 in 2022 out of a total of 3,420 requests, of which 1,444 were new.
Most of the clemencies granted by the president related to reduced fines for people in economic distress.
Herzog is determined to continue with this policy. He wants to enable soldiers who made mistakes in their youth to embark on a fresh start without a blot on their records that might bar them from employment in the future.