This is written from the perspective of a social work professional with training in criminology who now works in the media.
Tragically, the current debate in Israel about the planned release of convicted terrorists has not touched upon the most crucial process of criminal justice, which concerns the issue of “convicts at risk”.When someone convicted of first degree murder applies for parole, it is the most fundamental responsibility of a criminal justice system, in any nation on earth, to provide a professional risk evaluation that would ascertain whether the killer has expressed regret for his actions and if the killer has turned to a new path, and if there is chance that the convict would kill again.
That process is known as preventing recidivism, the possibility that someone convicted of a crime will repeat the crime once again.
In that context, the Center for Near East Policy Research dispatched journalists into Israeli jails to film terrorists convicted of murdering Israelis. Every interviewee, man and woman, emphatically said that, if released, they would murder more Israelis.
The movie produced, FOR THE SAKE OF ALLAH, can be viewed at:
With Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu’s proposed release of 104 convicted murderers, our agency submitted a question to the office of the Prime Minister, Defense Minister and representatives of Israel’s criminal justice system, to ask if the Israeli government had requested a professional evaluation of the risk assessment of each convict who is about to be released.
No answer has yet been received..
Instead, the government makes its decisions on whom to release based only on political sources in the Israel security establishment who favor a gesture of good faith to Mahmud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, so that talks may resume..
This is the same Abbas who runs the PBC TV and radio network which lauds Palestinians who murder Israeli citizens in cold blood, on frequencies provided to the PBC by the government of Israel.
At no time has Israel made any demand that Abbas desist from heaping praise on killers and transforming murderers into role models.
Successive governments of Israel prefer to issue generalized statements that Abbas should stop all incitement, instead of pulling the plug on the PBC for using Israeli government frequencies to praise the murder of Israeli citizens.
Meanwhile this policy which not only proposes to free unrepentant killers, all of whom have been receiving monthly payments from the Palestinian Authority. This is a policy which provides the added inspiration and endorsement to kill once again.
This is not only a case where “crime does not pay.” The proposed release of unrepentant murderers conveys another message: “Crime Pays.”
The Israel government decision to free 104 convicted murderers from Israeli jails must not interfere with the due process that would apply to any convicted felon, Jew or Arab, who would ask the court to shorten his sentence.
There must now be a public outcry, to demand that the Israel judicial system abide by procedures that would apply to any convicted felon who asks for commutation of a sentence, for any reason.
There must now be a public outcry, to demand that the courts of Israel conduct a standard “risk assessment” for each convict, before the courts allow the felon to return to society.
There must now be a public outcry to demand that the courts of Israel make an objective determination, to discern if each felon, convicted of first degree murder, would constitute a threat to society if he were to be set free.
Until now, debate in Israel has focused on whether or not terrorists should be set free.
Now the focus must change, to demand that Israel run its penal system based on due process – not on political considerations.
The government of Israel owes it to both Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel to discern who among the felons set to be freed may be bound on a path of premeditated murder.
There is a standard “risk assessment” process that any murder convict must go through before that convict is released before the time that the felon was scheduled to be released.
That process is supposed to apply to non Jews and Jews in Israel.
Very recently, a Jew tried and convicted of attempted murder of Arabs was denied early release because the “risk assessment” process rejected him as someone likely to repeat his crime..
By law, the 104 Arabs who were convicted of murder who are set to be released must also go through a:”risk assessment” process, to determine if they will repeat their crime.
At this time, the 104 Arab convicts have no yet been set free.
People around the world who care about the rudiments of justice should let the Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Israel hear their feedback.
The prime minister of Israel can be reached at: Media@pmo.gov.il
The defense minister of Israel can be reached at Dover@Mod.gov.il
The Talmudic adage that “silence constitutes agreement” should be kept in mind.