Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said on Wednesday that Israel Prisons Service (IPS) will install heating and air-conditioning systems in all new facilities to be built in the future.
In addition, the IPS will launch a comprehensive refurbishment scheme in all existing facilities.
Addressing the Knesset plenum, Dichter said that prisoners are currently allowed to have only one heater in their cells, and are entitled to have up to five blankets each. This is, Dichter explained, due to the faltering electric supply systems in the country's prisons. He said that "the IPS facilities leave much to be desired. Most of them were built in the 1930s."
Meretz Whip MK Zahava Gal-On, who initiated Wednesday's discussion on the matter, said that "the prisons are society's back yard. I find it unacceptable that prisoners struggle to keep themselves warm whereas the guards sit in air-conditioned rooms."
"When people have to sit in the cold like penguins because of electricity problems - what kind of society are we?" she asked.
In reply, Dichter said "prisoners aren't freezing. They have all the amenities, although not the ideal ones. This is the reality that has been created along the years."
Central heating systems are operational only in Ofek Juvenile Prison and the IPS hospital.
MK Talab El-Sana told of a Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee tour of Ayalon Prison last summer: "We saw broken windows, leaking taps and dampness everywhere. There are some buildings that are beneath the acceptable living standards."
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