Comptroller: Israel Prison Service falls far short in rehabilitation for prisoners, parolees

Report finds rehab program has failed on main parameters of treating addiction, counseling sex offenders, education, and opening rehab branches in prison.

Man in prison 370 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Man in prison 370
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Prisons Service has fallen fall short of putting into place the conditions needed to rehabilitate prisoners into society after their release, the state comptroller reported on Wednesday.
Out of the around 20,000 prisoners in Israel, every year around 7,300 are released on parole, and of these, only a quarter have any sort of post-incarceration transition or rehabilitation plan in place.
As of September 2013, the Prisons Service did not have conditions in place to put prisoners in rehabilitation programs during their incarceration and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch had not presented the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee with findings on the matter.
In 2009, the service launched a multi-year program to improve the rehabilitation of prisoners. Wednesday’s report said it failed on all four main parameters: treating addiction, counseling sex offenders, education and opening rehabilitation branches within prison.
The majority of prisoners who are substance abusers do not receive treatment. The report estimates there are about 4,500 prisoners with alcohol dependencies and that only around 100 were treated in 2012. Even though 28.7 percent have problems with both drugs and alcohol, in 2012 only 1,000 received treatment for drug abuse.
Treatment is also severely lacking for sexual offenders, the report states. Out of 1,134 convicted sex offenders in the system in 2012, only 330 received treatment.
The Prisons Service has only four wings designed for offenders looking to rehabilitate themselves, with capacity for 173 prisoners.
Nearly a third of all prisoners are either illiterate or read at an introductory level, and only around 1,500 take part in educational programs behind bars.
Despite intentions to improve the counselor-to-prisoner ratio, since 1990 the Prisoners Service has not made any significant improvements in the number of social workers working for it.
Parolees can find employment counselors at only 45 out of the nation’s 250 local councils.
The service had seven fulltime employees in 2012 working on helping paroled criminals and there was no treatment in the Arab sector.