“Overcrowded” Israeli prisons may see the release of 300 security prisoners

300 Palestinian security prisoners are expected to be released if the Knesset passes a bill in the upcoming fall session designed to ease overcrowded prisons conditions.

The 300 prisoners are among about 1,000 prisoners to be released on the day the law goes into force, on 20 December.

The bill grants early parole to ease the overcrowded prisons and calls for shortening sentences of hundreds of prisoners by two to five months.

According to Israeli media Haaretz , the bill was introduced after the High Court of Justice ruled the incarceration conditions infringed on prisoners’ human rights, and instructed the state to ensure that each prisoner had living space of 3 square metres.

According to data provided by the Israel Prison Service to the High Court of Justice to Haaretz, ‘security prisoners are incarcerated under the worst conditions’.

The Ofer Prison, located in the West Bank between Ramallah and Giv’at Ze’ev provide prisoners with only 2.2 square meters of living space.

Haaretz also reported the Megiddo and Ramon prisons only allow 2.4 square meters per prisoner.

Prisoners sentenced to up to four years will have their sentences reduced by a few weeks to a few months, no matter what the nature of their crime.

The new law will mean some prisoners will be released after serving only half their sentence as all prisoners are also entitled to a one-third reduction of their sentence for good behavior.

Speaking with Haaretz under anonymity, a senior law enforcement official said the ramifications of releasing hundreds of prisoners at once would be unpredictable, highlighting the chance of prisoner recidivism.

Many prisoners will be released without undergoing, or completing, rehabilitation processes, others will lack parole supervision, the official said.

This is a far from perfect solution to overcrowding, but the ruling leaves us little choice.

Among the prisoners expected to be eligible for early release include high-profile Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi’s brother, Waed Tamimi, sentenced to 14 months for throwing stones at Border Police officers.

His sentence is expected to be shortened by 16 weeks, which means that he will get out in March 2019.

According to Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem, there were 5,667 Palestinian security detainees and prisoners being held in Israeli Prison Service (IPS) facilities, including 316 from the Gaza Strip at the end of June 2018.

Of those detained, 273 are children between the ages of 12 and 17. Defence of Children Palestine claims the most common charge for children is stone throwing.

Source: Palestine Monitor