Overcrowded Jail Grants Each Prisoner Just 1.37 Square Meters

The overcrowding at Ofer detention center is mirrored at Ramon, Shata, and Carmel prisons.

The average living space allocated to prisoners at the Ofer detention center is 1.37 square meters, Israel Prisons Service statistics have shown.

The IPS figures were presented Tuesday before the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. The prison, situated just north of Jerusalem, was designed for almost 900 security prisoners and last year was transferred to the IPS from the authority of the Military Police.

The situation at the Kishon Prison near Haifa isn't much better. The 700 security and criminal prisoners there have an average living space of 1.97-square-meters per person. In the Ramon Prison, the area is 2.04 square meters, in the Shata Prison 2.16 and in the Carmel Prison 2.20.

The average space alloted to an Israeli prisoner on average has dropped in recent years from 3.4 square meters to only 2.9.

In comparison, European prisons have an average of 4.5-square-meters per prisoner.

The chairman of the committee, MK Menahem Ben-Sasson (Kadima), demanded immediate solutions from the IPS for prisoners in the Kishon and Ofer prisons, mandating that their living space would increased to at least 2 square meters each. Also, Ben-Sasson demanded that no prisoner will have less than 3 square meters within a year from today.

IPS Legal Adviser Haim Shmuelevich explained that it is difficult to solve the overcrowding problem by moving prisoners around between prisons. This is because it is not possible to incarcerate youths with adults, or security prisoners with ordinary criminals.