The Prison and Employment services launched the "Integrating" project to help ex-convicts stay out of prison on Tuesday, in an effort to counter the high-rate of repeat offenses of released prisoners.
According to the Israel Prison Service, 43% of prisoners released in 2016 returned to jail within five years from their release.
"Our main goal in the community relations department at the Prison Service is to prevent the 'revolving door' and return to prison again and again," said the head of community relations at the Prison Service, Mazal Amiel.
"We at the Prison Service do everything in our power to help the prisoner acquire a profession, through professional training or on-the-job training, and in the process allow the prisoner to gain experience and various employment skills during his stay in prison."
As part of the "Integrating" project, prisoners will begin occupational development and rehabilitation activities six months before their release, including learning how to write a resume, how to present themselves and how to prepare for the reentry to the workforce.
Three months before their release, an employment officer in the prison, together with the Employment Service, will begin compiling an employment record for the prisoner. The prisoner will also get to know the professional staff of the Employment Service who will accompany them upon their release and will begin the process of understanding what field and job the prisoner can enter upon their release.
Upon release, the ex-convict will receive a personalized return to work strategy based on their skills, characteristics and previous experience.
Only 12% of employers willing to employ ex-convicts
In May, the Employment Service conducted a survey among 1,965 employers and found that only 38% believe that released prisoners can be rehabilitated and only 12.3% said they were willing to employ ex-convicts, although 68% said they believe integration into work is a decisive part of rehabilitation.
"Optimal integration into the workforce is a decisive factor in an optimal return to society," stressed the director-general of the Employment Service, Rami Garor. "Every reformed society must guarantee the rehabilitation option for citizens who broke the law and paid their debt to society. This is an unprecedentedly important project, for Israeli society in general and for the released prisoners in particular. The data speaks for itself. This program is critical and we are convinced of its vitality and chances of success."
Israel Prison Service Commissioner Katy Perry stated that when she took office, she set as a goal the expansion of the rehabilitation and treatment continuum (rehabilitation programs and connection to the community) for the needs of prisoners.
"Although we are a prison organization and as such our responsibility seemingly ends on the day of release, however in my view it is an obligation for the social institutions to link arms and create a process that will continue the processes taking place in the prison, in order to produce useful and contributing citizens and thereby heal wider circles: the prisoner themself, their family, the community to which they belong and the personal safety of the residents of the entire country. There is nothing wrong with the Prison Service leading such a process and I am happy and proud that we are succeeding in this."