Dichter: New Prisons to Get Heaters, Airconditioning

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said yesterday that the Prisons Service would install heating and air-conditioning systems in all new facilities.

In addition, the Prisons Service will launch a comprehensive refurbishment scheme in all existing facilities.

Addressing the Knesset plenum, Dichter said that prisoners were currently allowed to have only one heater in their cells, and were entitled to have up to five blankets each. This is, Dichter explained, due to the faltering electricity system in the country's prisons. He said that "the Prisons Service facilities leave much to be desired. Most of them were built in the 1930s."

Meretz MK Zahava Gal-On, who initiated yesterday's discussion on the matter, said that "the prisons are society's backyard. 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 was created along the years."

Central heating systems are operational only in Ofek Juvenile Prison and the Prisons Service 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."