Special pardon period comes to an end, with 551 helped

Pres. Rivlin, outgoing Minister Shaked, hold meeting to mark end of pardon period.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Ayelet Shaked with President Reuven Rivlin
Ayelet Shaked with President Reuven Rivlin
Mark Neiman (GPO)

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and outgoing Justice Minister Shaked (New Right) on Monday held a special meeting to conclude the special period of pardons that the two launched to mark Israel’s 70th anniversary.

During this special period for the 70th anniversary, the use of the power of pardon was more extensive than normal, and gave a special weight to personal and family considerations as well as to those of treatment and rehabilitation.

Thousands of pardon requests were received by the President's Residence that did not meet the criteria and so were dealt with by the President's Residence and other bodies where required in line with the normal procedures for pardon requests.

Pardons were only granted after a request was submitted, after each case was considered on its own merits, and after those qualified gave their opinion in order to ensure that the pardons granted during the special period would not endanger the public and would not be at the expense of law enforcement.

A total of 551 requests for commutation of sentences, reducing fines and deleting criminal records were submitted by soldiers and those in national service and which matched the criteria. Of those, the president commuted the sentences of 102 prisoners, 13 times the average over the last 5 years. In 108 cases, criminal records of soldiers and those in national service were deleted, three times the number in the previous year.

Of the commuted the sentences, 12 were for prisoners whose children were being cared for by people other than their parents because of the prison sentence, and 18 were for prisoners who are suffering from serious illness and disabilities, and for prisoners over the age of 70. For 69% of them, this is their first custodial sentence and is of less than two years

Of the criminal records deleted, 75 were for soldiers who served or are serving in combat roles and of them, a quarter were given to soldiers who served or are serving in command positions, 16 solders were in pre-military academies, and 18 began their service at Havat HaShomer, a base for soldiers with difficult backgrounds.

A small number of requests which are still under consideration as part of the special period of pardons will be decided in the next few weeks and thus bring to an end the special provisions that have been in place over the last year among the relevant authorities.

At the end of the special period of pardons, Rivlin thanked the legal department at the President's Residence, headed by Legal Advisor Udit Corinaldi-Sirkis, which worked to create the special period of pardons and to implement it and dealt with the large number of requests that were submitted to Beit HaNasi efficiently, professionally and quickly after the special period was announced.

He also thanked Shaked and the team at the Ministry of Justice, headed by Director-General Emi Palmor and head of the pardons department Nochi Politis for their ongoing work with the President's Residence, and particularly for their intensive work together on the requests as they came in.

"The character of a society is gauged by its view of its prisoners and convicts," Rivlin said. "I believed that the 70th anniversary, along with the pardons, was an opportunity to stop, look and make sure we see those we perhaps do not see well enough normally. Not only to trumpet our successes and achievements over seventy years of independence, but also to show compassion and extend a hand to those who need it. To bring back to our collective those who left it and were found worthy of returning."

"That is an important message to Israeli society and that is the power of the institution of pardon, and so I decided, together with the Minister of Justice and with the help of many others, on the occasion of Israel’s 70th anniversary, to launch this special period of pardons. To proclaim freedom and to make greater use of the authority of mercy and compassion. I applaud the results of this important initiative that strengthened the confidence of many people in the institutions of the state, and which put compassion alongside ensuring laws are enforced."

Shaked added, "IDF soldiers give the best years of their lives to the country and over the last year we have given them ours. The 70th anniversary was an excellent opportunity for us to make an exception to the law with IDF soldiers and with citizens who proved they have undergone rehabilitation. That was the case when we approved the vast majority of requests from soldiers to delete criminal records, and I am delighted that many more soldiers submitted requests during the special period of pardons than in previous years."

"There were also more requests for commutation of custodial sentences from citizens who had already served a large part of their sentence and had undergone rehabilitation. They were released after building a program for rehabilitation in the community and their supervision until the end of their sentence. The aim was to deal with the problems that led to the crime being committed and to reduce the phenomenon of the 'revolving door' in light of the conclusions of the Dorner Committee on the limitations of the effectiveness of custodial sentences in reducing crime.

"I would like to thank President Rivlin for his partnership on this project, and the head of the pardons department at the ministry of justice, Nochi Politis and Legal Advisor to the President, Udit Corinaldi-Sirkis for their work to implement this important initiative."

The two also thanked the many other agencies that helped implement the initiative, including the State Prosecutor’s Office, the Public Defense Office, the Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Authority, the Israel Prison Service, the Judicial Authority and the pardons committee, as well as the IDF, led by the Chief Education Officer.