Gov't ordered to reveal where convicts perform community service
Central District Court judge writes disclosure would allow the public to ascertain whether the offenders were well-matched to their services.
The Israel Prison Service and Social Affairs Ministry will be required to reveal the list of institutions and agencies to which people who are sentenced to community service are sent, according to a court order issued following a petition by Haaretz.
In rendering his decision, Central District Court Judge Ilan Shiloh wrote that the public has a right to know the conditions under which people were serving community service sentences. He said the disclosure would allow the public to ascertain whether the offenders were well-matched to the places where they perform their services, and to gain insight into how the ministry and prison services are distributing their resources.
The types of institutions who accept people sentenced to public service include hospitals and soup kitchens. The types of duties they perform could include cleaning, maintenance work and transporting patients within hospitals.
The prison service and the Social Affairs Ministry rejected Haaretz's initial request for information about where those sentenced to public service were sent and what type of work they were required to do.
The prison service claimed that revealing this information could make the agencies and institutions subject to threats or offers of bribes, and that many of the agencies on the list preferred to remain anonymous.
The Social Affairs Ministry said it had no permanent list to present and also indicated that revealing the identities of the agencies would compromise their willingness to be part of the program. It said this could "harm the very possibility of punishment though community service, which would increase overcrowding in prisons, thus punishing the taxpayer."
The court was critical of the reasons given for not providing the list, including the claim that the institutions would be ashamed to admit that convicts work for them.
The court also said that the concerns over leaving the agencies and institutions open to bribes or threats were not based on facts and were not justified, especially considering the public's right to know about and to oversee the process of community service.