prisoner - Tomer Appelbaum - November 1 2010
A prison in Be'er Sheva (illustrative) Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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Even though it has experience of handling high-profile inmates − Shlomo Benizri, Abraham Hirchson and Aryeh Deri are just three politicians who have sepnt time behind bars − the expected lengthy imprisonment of ex-President Moshe Katsav is likely to present a major challenge to the Israel Prison Service. This no ordinary prisoner. While other ministers or MKS were convicted and sentenced to prison in recent years, Katsav as president was responsible for granting clemency. He could encounter felons for whom he had refused clemency or the “soldiers” of underworld figures who had been declined release. Such individuals might seek revenge when they meet Katsav face-to-face.

Prisoners are known to harass felons convicted of sex crimes, and that could mean enemies for that reason.

Katsav has not been sentenced. The Prison Service may opt to assign him a cell in the wing for prisoners in need of special protection, which is more closely guarded.

Two other criteria will determine where Katsav could do time. One is whether he asks to be placed in the special wing for Orthodox prisoners, and the other is whether he will ask to be close to home to make family visits easier.

It is too soon to know whether Katsav will have a cell to himself or will have to share a cell with five others as is common in several prisons. Former minister Abraham Hirchson was put in a cell with one other prisoner, while former minister Shlomo Benizri inhabits a cell with five other men.

It’s likely that Katsav in prison would become involved in the service’s education system and could even work in one of the prison industries.

During the day he could call his family from the public phone or buy himself food and drink in the prison canteen.

Katsav would have to complete a quarter of his sentence before being eligible for his first furlough, which must be approved by the police and the Prison Service.

Israel’s eighth president will get up every morning at 5:30 for the first prisoner count of the day; breakfast at 7 A.M. offers the same seven items every day; and then there is work as a teaching assistant, Torah study or a job in a prison factory. At 11:30 comes the second count, followed by lunch and at around 2 P.M., enrichment classes. Dinner is at 5 P.M. and at 7 P.M. is the evening count. Between 8 and 10 P.M. he will be confined to his cell, locked in until 5:30 the next morning.