Israel to release hundreds of prisoners to curb coronavirus spread

Prisoners who are found eligible under the new regulations will go on a 30-day "vacation," under house arrest conditions, at the end of which they will officially be released from prison.

INMATES WALK through the Hermon Prison in northern Israel last week. (photo credit: ELIYAHU KAMISHER)
INMATES WALK through the Hermon Prison in northern Israel last week.
(photo credit: ELIYAHU KAMISHER)
The government approved new emergency regulations on Friday, initiated by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, to release approximately 400 offenders from prisons throughout Israel for a 30-day house arrest starting this coming Sunday, after which they will be released.

The measures are part of an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, coming only a day after an officer serving at Neve Tirza prison tested positive for coronavirus.
 
The prisoners who are found eligible under the new regulations will go on a special 30-day "vacation," under house arrest conditions, at the end of which they will officially be released from prison. 
The regulations that stipulate which prisoners are selected for early release say that they must currently be serving no more than a 4-year prison sentence, and must not have been convicted of either sexual offenses or domestic violence.
Erdan said in a statement that "prisons are the most vulnerable and sensitive place for the spread of the virus. And so, since the beginning of the crisis, I have been taking emergency measures to reduce the congestion among prisoners and reduce the chances of infection." 
"The inmates who will be released will remain in house arrest conditions until the end of their imprisonment, while the police will monitor their compliance with house arrest conditions," Erdan added.

An Israel Prision Service officer serving at the Neve Tirza prison tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, after coming into contact with another patient at the prison.
It was also reported that all staff who have recently visited the Neve Tirza or Givon prisons have been required to self-isolate. 
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this article.