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New Israeli bill to gain more prison space by freeing 1,000 convicts by year’s end

If the Knesset passes a bill aimed at improving conditions at prisons by reducing the number of inmates, some 300 security convicts and 700 criminal convicts will be released on Dec. 20.

Ofer Prison near Jerusalem. As of September 2016, it holds about 1,250 Palestinian prisoners; prior to that, the number was closer to 800. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Ofer Prison near Jerusalem. As of September 2016, it holds about 1,250 Palestinian prisoners; prior to that, the number was closer to 800. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

If the Knesset passes a bill aimed at improving conditions at prisons by reducing the number of inmates, some 300 security convicts and 700 criminal convicts will be released on Dec. 20.

The bill was initiated due to a ruling by the High Court of Justice that each prisoner be afforded at least 4.5 square meters (48 square feet) of personal space—an increase of 50 percent over the current 3 square meters (32 square feet).

The Israel Prisons Service responded by proposing to shave two to seven months off the sentences of convicts who were handed sentences of up to 20 years in jail.

If the bill is passed, the brother of Ahed Tamimi, the young woman who gained international notoriety for slapping and punching Israeli soldiers, and an accomplice of the killer of Border Police officer Hadas Malka in 2017, will be released.

The legislation will automatically cut six-month sentences by two weeks, one year sentences by a month and 20-year sentences by seven months. Prison services can currently reduce sentences by a week for each six months served, half the early release time that is offered in the bill.

According to the IPS, the Supreme Court’s demand to increase space for prisoners will require an additional 6,200 prison cells.

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