If you find our website useful, please consider sending us a contribution!!!

PCWG, 1114 Brandt Drive, Tallahassee FL 32308


Emerald Corrections, Be'er Sheva
March 24, 2010 YNET News
Plans to establish the first private prison in Israel, which was thwarted by the Supreme Court, will cost Israel's economy some NIS 220 million ($ 58 million). Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch on Wednesday announced during the Israel Prison Service (Shabas) annual conference that the jail will be annexed to the Israel Prison Service. According to estimates, the Finance Ministry will deliver the needed funds for the purchase in the upcoming weeks. Aharonovitch said that his ministry and the Finance Ministry were working on transferring the private prison to the hands of the Israel Prison Service. "In light of the Supreme Court's decision, all efforts are being made to hand over the facility's operations to the Israel Prison Service. The facility will serve as a modern and suitable addition to the organization. "I can declare that the Finance Ministry has concluded its work with us and the annexation will be made in the upcoming weeks," the minister said.

November 20, 2009 Haaretz
"I cannot say that it was unexpected, but when it really happens, it seems unexpected," said the owner of Minrav Engineering and Construction, Abraham Kuznitsky, minutes after being informed yesterday of the High Court of Justice's decision against his operating a privately-run prison near Be'er Sheva. Minrav and Africa Israel were the co-winners of the state tender to operate Israel's first private prison. Kuznitsky has spent the last four years on the project and is considered the driving force behind it. After the project's cancellation, the state is expected to open negotiations with the franchisee over compensation. The franchise agreement requires the state to pay such compensation to the tender winners for their expenses so far in building the prison, which cost about NIS 220 million. But the question of compensation for future earnings and payment for other expenses may very well reach arbitration, and even the courts. "At least financially, our situation now is better than if the decision had not been made," said Kuznitsky. But he did not leave any room for doubt as to his intentions: "We will demand the NIS 200 million we have invested, and we will present the state with a demand for at least another NIS 150 million," he said. Kuznitsky said the state will have to compensate them for all the damages in the eight months since they finished building the project, including not only for expenses for training staff, but also all for future income from the operation. He said the companies had trained 120 employees and that is a tragedy since they gave up other work - and now will be unable to find new jobs - and they could even sue him. The court's decision came after construction was completed, but it did not allow the prison to be used until before it made its ruling. The tender for Israel's first privately-run prison was a Build-Operate-Transfer contract. The franchisee builds, runs and maintains the facility for a set period of time in return for regular payments, and at the end of the operating period the facility is handed over to the state. The NIS 1.5 billion tender required building a prison in 32 months to house 800 prisoners. The bidders competed over the price the state would pay for every prisoner, with Minrav and Africa Israel winning with the lowest price of NIS 218.90 per prisoner per day. The tender process started at the beginning of 2003 and the winners were chosen at the end of 2005. Both the treasury and Africa Israel said yesterday they were still studying the decision. Sources at Africa Israel said they did not expect the company to suffer financial damage from the ruling as the state is required to compensate the firm.

November 19, 2009 YNET
The Supreme Court annulled an amendment to the Prison Ordinance which allows for the establishment of a private prison that will be run by a private corporation. In her ruling, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish said the transfer of control over Israel's prisons from the State to private hands would constitute a severe violation of prisoners' basic human rights. The chief justice noted that while the amendment was aimed at improving detainment conditions in Israeli prisons, its main aim is an economic desire to save State funds. Beinish added that while the High Court usually does not interfere in economic policies formulated by the government and Knesset, it takes a different approach in respect to legislation that undermines the most fundamental constitutional rights. Meanwhile, Justice Edmund Levy, who remained in the minority opinion, wrote that he felt it was too early to determine that the proposed amendment is unconstitutional, as it has not been implemented yet.

June 3, 2009 Israel National News
State attorneys have filed a request with the Supreme Court asking to hasten the decision-making process regarding private prisons. The issue of whether or not the government can allow private companies to run prisons was brought to the court four years ago, and the last hearing on the subject was held almost two years ago. Attorneys said that the court's delay in handing down a verdict had caused financial losses to both the state and a private company hoping to run a prison. The company has already built a prison compound, which attorneys said costs millions of shekels a year to maintain in its current, empty state.

May 18, 2009 Israel National News
Not only will a privately-run prison not save the government 15 percent of a jail’s operating expenses, as originally thought, but it will actually cost 20 percent more, according to an Israeli Prison Service internal report. The private prison was supposed to have opened in Be’er Sheva this past month but was stopped in its tracks by a Supreme Court ruling. The Court ruled on a petition submitted four years ago by a prisoner named Yadin Machnes, a lawyer by profession, as well as the heads of the Civil Rights Department in the Law Academic College of Ramat Gan and former Israel Prison Service official Shlomo Tauser. The petitioners claimed that Israeli legal principles and Basic Laws forbid the transfer to a private, commercial body of sovereign powers such as the use of force to incarcerate individuals. Privatization of jails could “lead to the privatization of the police, army and legal system,” the petitioner maintained, “causing a mortal blow to democratic life in Israel.” The already-built facility, just south of Be’er Sheva, is designed to hold 800 low-to-medium security prisoners serving up to seven years in jail. It is owned by ALA Management and Operations, which won the government tender to run Israel’s first private jail. ALA is a subsidiary of three companies: Lev Leviev's Africa-Israel, the Minerb construction company of Israel, and Emerald Corrections, a Louisiana-based company that operates several private detention centers in Texas. MKs Give Report to Police Minister -- The new Prison Service report was revealed by MK Shelly Yechimovich (Labor) and former Prison Service head Aryeh Bibi (Kadima). They asked Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovich to accept the report, and are also working to have it presented to the Supreme Court – even though the petition is not related to the economics of running the prison. Representatives of the private-prison companies say they will demand at least 250 million shekels in compensation for their losses. They have already built the facility, bought equipment, and hired workers. The Supreme Court has already hinted that the operators do not deserve the full sum, as they were aware as early as three years ago, when a first restraining order was served, that the legality of the private jail’s operation was in doubt. Arguments against Privatization -- Arguments against privatization include the fact that restricting individuals’ freedom should be done only by the State and the fact that giving jail-control to private owners leads them to lobby for tougher crime laws that will lead to more prisoners, as has occurred in the United States. On the other hand, a Prison Service representative is to be present at all times, and any violations of the detailed contract - which stipulate in detail how prisoners are to be treated - are liable to lead to fines for the operators.

March 22, 2009 Israel National News
A special nine-judge panel of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch, has issued a restraining order preventing Israel’s first private prison from beginning operation. The ruling has profound legal, social and philosophical ramifications. Legal petitions against the privatization of Israel’s prisons were submitted four years ago by a prisoner named Yadin Machnes, a lawyer by profession, as well as the heads of the Civil Rights Department in the Law Academic College of Ramat Gan and former Israel Prison Service official Shlomo Tauser. The already-built facility, just south of Be’er Sheva, was to open its doors as early as next month, holding 800 low-to-medium security prisoners serving up to seven years in jail. It is owned by ALA Management and Operations, which won the government tender to run Israel’s first private jail. ALA is a subsidiary of three companies: Lev Leviev's Africa-Israel, an Israeli construction company, and Emerald Corrections, a Louisiana-based company that operates several private detention centers in Texas. Petitioners: Privatization of Police and Army Next? -- The petitioners claimed that Israeli legal principles and Basic Laws forbid the transfer to a private, commercial body of sovereign powers such as the use of force to incarcerate individuals. Privatization of jails could “lead to the privatization of the police, army and legal system,” the petitioner maintained, “causing a mortal blow to democratic life in Israel.” The State – backed specifically by the Finance and Public Security Ministries – claimed that the new prison would be a “unique, responsible and supervised model,” and that prisoners’ rights would be at the top of its agenda. A major objective of the State is to save money in prison management, though whether it would actually do so, especially in the long run, is now up for debate. The Supreme Court judges noted that the fact that the new jail has already been built is the company’s problem. They noted that they had issued a previous restraining order in June 2006, well before the facility was completed, making it clear to all that the legality of the private jail’s operation was in doubt. Arguments Against Privatization -- Attorney Aviv Wasserman of Ramat Gan, one of the petitioners, has summed up several of the arguments against private prisons. They include the following: Enforcing the denial of an individual’s freedom of mobility should be done not by a private, commercial body, but only by the State. The most common way for a private body to save money in running a prison is to cut back on guards’ salaries. This is not only unfair to the guards, but also leads to heavy turnover in manpower, a drop in quality of training and functioning, and a corresponding rise in incidents of violence and smuggling in comparison with public jails. Other methods of saving money also come at the expense of the prisoner, including reductions in rehabilitation, education, prisoner welfare, and the like. In addition, money for work performed by the prisoners goes mostly to the private company, as opposed to the situation in public jails, where the profits are directed to funds used for the prisoners’ welfare. Transferring control of jails to private owners leads the latter to lobby for more prisoners. This partially explains the dramatic rise in prisoners in the United States - nearly ten-fold - over the past 25 years. Lobbyists push for the Three Strikes You’re Out policy (meaning that one who is convicted of three felonies receives an automatic 25-year sentence), as well as for the abolition of Youth Courts.

March 4, 2008 Haaretz
The cost of incarceration at the private jail nearing completion in Be'er Sheva will be at least 30% more than in a government facility. The figures are in clear contradiction of the Finance Ministry's position, which stated that operating a private jail would save the government 20% in the cost of prisoner maintenance. The report is according to figures calculated recently by a senior Israel Prison Services official. ALA Management and Operations, a subsidiary of Lev Leviev's Africa Israel, won the government tender to run Israel's first private prison, which is due to open in the coming year beside the existing Be'er Sheva prison. The new prison is still awaiting a ruling from the High Court of Justice. The main argument in the petition is that transferring a prison to a private enterprise infringes on the sovereignty of the state. The state is supposed to have a monopoly on the use of force and punishment, and the petition alleges that a private facility contravenes the Basic Law on Government. The petitioners further claim that privatization could lead to a violation of a prisoner's rights, thus contravening the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty. The tender states that the treasury will pay ALA 220 shekels per day per inmate. But the calculation by the IPS official indicates that, among other things, the per diem cost of the salaries of the 18 wardens provided by IPS will increase inmate maintenance costs by NIS 15 a day. This expense was not taken into account when the tender was signed. It also turns out that the cost of keeping prisoners in an IPS facility has declined since the original tender calculation was made, and now stands at NIS 155 per day - NIS 80 less than the daily cost at the private jail. "The treasury's calculation was not based on a budgetary figure," responded a source at the Finance Ministry, "but was rather made from the tender winner's perspective. Without agreeing to the analysis presented here, it should be noted that the goal is not to save money, but rather to improve conditions for the prison inmates." The state refused to disclose the calculation used in the drafting of the tender, citing commercial confidentiality.

January 1, 2008 Globes
Most of the Israeli public supports the privatization of government companies and public services, including Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), the Israel Airports Authority and the seaports, according to a survey by Maagar Mochot. However, the public rejects the privatization of the Prisons Service, water and sewage infrastructures, and the education and health services. The survey was conducted ahead of today's debate sponsored by the Israel Democracy Institute on private prisons. The survey found a clear correlation between people's level of income and support for privatization. 70% of high income-earners support privatization of IEC the Airports Authority, and the seaports, compared with 46-47% of persons earning less than the average national salary.

July 7, 2007 Haaretz
The Knesset will ask the High Court of Justice today to postpone by a year its deliberations on a petition that seeks to annul a law allowing private companies to operate prisons in Israel. The Knesset will seek to convince a panel of nine justices that it intends to hold a public discussion on the overall implications - economic, social and administrative - of the general processes of privatization in the country. A petition was filed by the Ramat Gan Law School, which argued that the license given to the billionaire Lev Leviev to build and operate a private prison contravenes the Basic Law on Government. The petitioners say the licensing gives a private firm clear powers of governance, including the use of force and the denial of liberty. Leviev's prison is being constructed near Be'er Sheva and is expected to receive inmates in June 2009. A year ago the Knesset asked to participate as a respondent to the petition, and asked to postpone the deliberations - which were scheduled to take place in late August 2006. The justices accepted the Knesset's argument that two bills against privatizing prisons, by MK Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) and Dov Hanin (Hadash), were pending and it was necessary to allow the legislators to deliberate and then vote. In late February, the state and the Knesset asked the court for yet another delay, arguing that although the two bills were rejected in votes, another bill was still pending. The situation was complicated by the fact that MK Nadia Hilu and MK Michael Melchior, who had propsed the bill, withdrew after the two previous bills were voted down. In mid-March, Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik called on the general public to present the Knesset with position papers on the implications of privatizing prisons, which would be discussed during the summer session. But the explanation filed by the Knesset legal counselor, Nurit Elstein, to the High Court last week said that a discussion of dozens of position papers sent to the Knesset has not been possible due to the legislature's busy agenda in recent months. Elstein said the Knesset plans to hold a series of discussions during its winter session that are expected to be concluded by March 2008. "The Knesset request is not an innocent one," says attorney Gilad Barnea, representing the petitioners. "Its purpose is to bring the court in direct confrontation with the Knesset over the right to legislate laws." Yachimovich added: "Each day that goes by bolsters Lev Leviev's hold on the prison he owns and creates an irreversible situation in which the power to jail, punish, supervise and rehabilitate are in the hands of tycoons."

August 31, 2006 Globes
The High Court of Justice today postponed a hearing on a petition filed by the Academic College of Law, Ramat Gan against the government and Knesset to void a law amending the prison ordinance to allow the establishment of a privately-run prison. A seven-judge panel headed by Supreme Court President Judge Aharon Barak ruled that in six months the government and Knesset will file supplementary statements for the petition. The High Court of Justice said its decision has no bearing on the content of the petition, “which raises serious legal problems.” The decision was given following a discussion on whether there was room, as the state and Knesset argue, for allowing public debate to be completed, and for the Knesset to discuss the issue, before the High Court of Justice hearing and ruling on the case.

July 16, 2006 Globes
A panel of nine High Court of Justice judges has rejected a petition by the Academic College of Law, Ramat Gan and former Israel Prisons Commissioner Shlomo Twiser for an injunction against the minister of finance and public security to continue procedures for the construction of a private prison near Beersheva by ALA Management and Operations Ltd. The High Court of Justice ruled that there were no grounds for an injunction, and that a decision on the petition would be given before the procedures for building the prison were completed, and before sovereign authority was transferred to a private entity. The court therefore ruled that no harm would be caused to the petitioners during the interim.

June 18, 2006 Jerusalem Post
An extended panel of seven High Court justices is due on Sunday to hear a petition by the Ramat Gan Academic College for Law against legislation passed two years ago allowing for the construction and operation of a privately owned prison. Since the law was passed, the Prison Service awarded the franchise for the first such prison to businessman Lev Levayev. Levayev signed a 25-year contract with the state to build and run a prison to house 800 inmates. The petition, filed by attorneys Gilad Barnea and Aviv Wasserman, head of the human rights division of Ramat Gan College, charged that the law violated Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law: Government according to which "the government is the executive authority of the State." According to their argument, while the government may delegate some of its executive responsibilities to private agents, there are certain "core" responsibilities which it must execute itself. Otherwise, it loses its sovereign power. These responsibilities include enforcement of the law, including the incarceration of lawbreakers. "Not only is corrections one of the government's most basic responsibilities, it is probably the most sobering," they wrote, quoting from an article written by Prof. Joseph Field. "The ability to deprive citizens of their freedom, force them to live behind bars and totally regulate their lives is unlike any other power the government has. The responsibility for corrections goes beyond issues of cost efficiency and touches on whether a private company should be able to regulate the affairs of a citizen deprived of his freedom." The petitioners pointed out that the law granted the head of the privately owned prison widespread powers, including handcuffing prisoners in public places, holding prisoners in isolation, search and confiscation, prohibiting a prisoner from seeing his lawyer, control over the prisoner's incoming and outgoing mail, disciplinary hearings, and the right to use firearms when necessary. In its response, the state rejected the petitioners' allegation that the law released the state from its responsibility and maintained that it also gave it far-reaching supervisory powers. These powers included the obligation to appoint a team of Prison Service officials which was to be physically present in the prison 24 hours a day to oversee that the owners fulfilled their duties. The state also rejected the constitutional argument raised by the petitioners to the effect that the law prevented the government from fulfilling its constitutional responsibility as the executive authority of the state. It argued that according to Paragraph 33 (e) of the Basic Law: Government, the government could delegate powers if a law specifically said it could. The intellectual monthly, Eretz Aheret, devoted its latest issue to the controversy over the establishment of a private prison in the hopes of fanning a public discussion which, it alleged, had been almost totally lacking over an issue it described as crucial. "This edition deals with a range of journalistic and philosophical questions regarding the legislation to establish a private prison," wrote the editor, Bambi Sheleg. "Who pushed the project and why; why was such an important law passed in only three months from the day it was brought before the Knesset Interior Committee; why weren't the committee's deliberations covered by the media; why did many MKs vote for a law without understanding its implications; why did the state refuse to publish the terms of the public tender... "On June 18, the High Court... will determine a fateful question. Has the state crossed permissible boundaries in passing a law allowing a private prison? Did the Knesset not exceed its powers and cause irreversible damage to Israeli sovereignty?"

June 18, 2006 Globes
The High Court of Justice today issued a show cause order instructing the state to justify the legality of a private jail within 30 days. The High Court of Justice issued the order following a petition to the court to void a law allowing the construction of Israel’s first private jail near Beersheva. A nine-judge panel will hear the case shortly after the government files its response to the show cause order. The respondents in the petition are the ministers of justice and finance. The High Court of Justice also ordered the parties to file their comments on the petitioners’ request for an injunction to halt further action on the tender for the private jail. The state must submit its response within seven days, and the petitioners will then have seven days to respond. The High Court of Justice will probably rule on whether to allow the tender to go forward within two weeks. The High Court of Justice also ordered a review of whether to bring in the Knesset to the discussion, and whether to add the winner in the prison tender as another respondent to the petition. ALA Management and Operations Ltd., a joint subsidiary of Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE:AFIL; Pink Sheets:AFIVY) and Minrav Holdings Ltd. (TASE: MNRV) subsidiary Minrav Engineering & Construction (1983) Ltd. won the tender to build and operate the private jail. Under the tender, the jail will become operational in three years. The company must allocate 5.2 sq.m. per convict, and the state will pay the company $49 per convict per day. Academic College of Law, Ramat Gan and former Israel Prisons Commissioner Shlomo Twiser filed the petition. They claim that privatizing prisons transfers the state’s sovereign authority to a private entity, operating out of the profit motive, which is liable to harm the convicts’ rights. The petitioners’ fundamental claim is that the law permitting the privatization of prisons contravenes the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty; and Basic Law: The Government, which bans the transfer of sovereign authority (law enforcement) to a private entity.

April 30, 2006 Globes
Construction of Israel’s first privately operated prison is expected to overcome its final obstacle is a few days. Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE:AFIL; Pink Sheets:AFIVY) and Minrav Holdings Ltd. (TASE: MNRV), which won the tender for the prison in November 2005, will have to wait until the High Court of Justice hears an appeal against the prison filed by Ramat Gan College Human Rights Department. If the High Court of Justice approves the private prison, Africa-Israel chairman Lev Leviev and Minrav chairman Avraham Kuznitzky will become the first individuals in Israel to operate a private prison in the country. Under the terms of the tender, Africa-Israel and Minrav will build the prison and operate it for 25 years, under the PFI (private finance initiative) method. The state will pay the two companies for each prisoner during the franchise period. The contract will be worth at least NIS 1.5 billion, while the cost of building the prison is estimated at NIS 250 million. Africa-Israel and Minrav are expected to make an annual return on investment of 6-10%. Construction of the prison is scheduled to begin early this year, and end within three years. Located south of Beersheva, the prison will house 800-1,000 low and medium-security prisoners. Since this is the first tender of its kind in Israel, implementation will be monitored, and, if successful, the government might privatize another prison in northern Israel. The Ramat Gan College Human Rights Department argues that privatizing prisons grants the franchisee clear governing authority, including the use of force, including lethal force; restricting freedom, including the use of solitary confinement; and restricting the privacy of both prisoners and visitors. These authorities are the nucleus of the modern state’s sovereignty and authority, and conceding them contravenes Israel’s Basic Laws, which ban the transfer of prisoners from the state’s authority to a private entity driven by the profit motive. The petitioners add that privatizing prisons constitutes a fundamental breach in the legal barriers that prevent harm to a democratic state’s sovereignty, a process that will begin with the privatizing of prisons, but end with the privatizing of the police, judiciary, and armed forces, thereby dealing a death blow to Israel’s constitutional structure. The State Prosecutor’s Office argues that the privatization of a prison is a statutory privatization that does not harm fundamental constitutional rights.

March 1, 2006 Haaretz
The concept of transferring the establishment and management of prisons to a private entrepreneur has arrived in Israel too. There is a bill on this issue, and a first corporation, owned by real estate mogul Lev Leviev and others, is already making an offer to the government to build a prison and run it for 25 years - a deal worth NIS 1.5 billion. The Finance Ministry, which is fanatically insistent on privatizing everything that moves, is supportive, and the initiative is making strides in the Internal Security Ministry as well. The employees of the Israel Prison Service that will be harmed by the privatization are the low-level workers - who constitute the majority of the employees - as those who win the concession will prefer cheap and temporary workers. But the ones who will express the prison service's position in talks dealing with the questions of whether, how much, and how to privatize will not be the low-level workers, but the senior leadership. These are the same people who expect to be integrated into the new owners' business in fat administrative and consulting positions, free of government salary ceilings, or else are planning to bid on future tenders with their own companies. The first signs are already in the air: Orit Adato, the former prison service commissioner, has been recruited as a professional consultant to Leviev's incarceration corporation. Within the prison service, quite a few senior officials support privatization, led by the head of the prison service headquarters. However, privatizing imprisonment raises issues that are still more fundamental than the conflict-of-interest problems of senior prison service officials meddling in the privatization or the unstable future of the low-level workers. Some of these fundamental issues appear in two petitions that have been filed with the High Court of Justice recently against the privatization of incarceration. One of the petitions was filed by the human rights department of the Academic College of Law in Ramat Gan, and the second by Physicians for Human Rights. The basic question the petitions raise is what the "core powers" of the state are, which fundamentally cannot be transferred to subcontractors. There is universal agreement about the existence of such powers. The problem is that no nation has precisely defined what those powers include - that is, what the limits of privatization are. And in every country in which the subject of core powers has come up for fundamental judicial debate - of the kind that is to be conducted shortly in the High Court - the judges have preferred not to make a decision on the matter and to wait for the legislators. Privatization is a process in which the state, which holds assets, resources and powers as a trustee of the citizens, sells them into private hands. In cases such as private education or private medicine, those who want to pay money for them do so if they can afford it, and quality control is by means of demand: When the service fails, the client votes with his feet, goes back to using the government service or chooses another provider. Prisons, however, are run differently. The prisoners are literally a captive clientele that might get the service, but doesn't want it and certainly doesn't purchase or fund it. The true client is the public at large, and the service it is requesting is not the provision of shelter, food and clothing for criminals, but the distancing of dangerous elements, punishment, education and rehabilitation. In contrast to other arenas of privatization, the chain reaction of the clients when it comes to incarceration - that is, the public - will be tangled, fragmented and weakened. Who exactly will respond if it becomes clear that the prisons are being run badly, that there is corruption, that the prisoners have a low level of personal safety, or that the ability to keep them behind bars is hampered by a constant attempt to minimize costs (such as by cutting down on the number of wardens) and increase profit? When the entity financing a service and the entity consuming it are different, who will the professionals - such as those in the Internal Security Ministry, which is to supervise the entrepreneurs - represent? These questions become sharper still in light of the tremendous range of new potential ties between money and power that are being offered by the privatization of incarceration. Israeli law-enforcement officials have shown in the last few years that they are increasingly ready to follow in the footsteps of countries, such as Denmark, that have cut down on imprisonment in cases such as financial crimes, replacing it with deterrent fines and other punitive methods that have been shown to be effective. How will a real estate mogul who runs prisons use his connections with lawmakers when the Knesset debates bills geared toward cutting down on the number of prisoners, a la Denmark, or other bills dealing with shortening or lengthening prison terms? It may be that in the absence of explicit legislation, the High Court justices will choose to refrain from defining the state's core powers and the limits of privatization. But even without being required to give such a binding definition, the High Court is likely to contribute by determining that it is appropriate and reasonable always to include corporeal restraints, primarily detention and imprisonment, within the state's core powers. Such a ruling, and the implied order that it is appropriate only for civil servants to be responsible for all powers of corporeal restraint, will take the privatization of prisons off the agenda, thereby granting suitable protection of the public interest, the rights of the Israel Prison Service workers and the human dignity of the prisoners.

November 28, 2005
Ostensibly, the idea behind the process of privatization, in which it was recently decided that a group of companies headed by tycoon Lev Leviev will build and operate a private prison, is no different from the idea behind the processes that during the past decade have led to privatization in the Employment Service, the seaports and the national airline. But this is different. The sovereignty of the state, as experts on political science and political philosophy say, is expressed in its monopoly on applying means of force on everyone who is within its boundaries. The army, the police, the State Prosecutor's Office, the courts and the prisons are tools by means of which the state exercises its authority and implements its sovereignty. Thus the state of Israel has decided to delegate some of its authority to Leviev in building a prison near Be'er Sheva. This happened in a process that went on for about five years and provoked public debate. The idea was imported from abroad by Finance Ministry officials during Ehud Barak's tenure as prime minister and was frozen because of the opposition of then-public security minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, revived when (now Likud MK) Uzi Landau replaced him and gained momentum in 2003 when (now Likud MK) Benjamin Netanyahu, who was appointed finance minister at that time, started to promote it very energetically. About two weeks ago an inter-ministerial tenders committee consisting of representatives of the Finance Ministry, the Public Security Ministry and the Prison Service chose the bidder who will build and operate, for 22 years, a prison for 800 inmates. In the winning company, which will receive a state grant of NIS 47 million to build a prison with an investment of NIS 250 million, the controlling share is in the hands of Lev Leviev, and the partners in it will be the Israeli Minrav Engineering Company and the American Emerald Company, which operates small private prisons in the United States. When the prison begins to operate, the State of Israel will pay the company for every prisoner incarcerated. The overall extent of the contract is estimated at about NIS 1.4 billion. When the idea was first brought up, at the Prisons Service they argued that it was incumbent upon the state to solve the prison space shortage by building additional public prisons. Only during the past three years, after Lieutenant General Prison Commissioner Yaakov Ganot replaced Orit Adato - and realized how determined the Finance Ministry was to advance the project - did the service decide to support the privatization and even made itself a leading force in its implementation. Prisons Service Commander Haim Glick, headquarters chief of the Prison Service and the person who is considered one of the leading candidates to replace Ganot in about a year, is more identified than anyone else now with the idea of establishing the private prison. Glick, who is both an economist and a lawyer, played a key role in preparing the tender, in establishing the professional requirements that are included in it and also in the selection of the winning bidder. Prisons Service Commissioner (ret.) Adato, upon her retirement from the service, founded Adato Consulting, Ltd., which is providing professional advice to the prison managements, both public and private, internationally. Adato is also the professional consultant to the group that won the franchise to operate the prison in Israel. More prisoners than China During the 12 years that have elapsed since the establishment of the world's first private prison in the United States, a great deal of experience has accumulated, which mostly is not encouraging. About 30 countries have thus far established approximately 200 private prisons, in which more than 150,000 inmates are incarcerated. Most of the private prisons have been established in the United States, France, Britain and Australia, and a few of them in South American states and in Eastern Europe; and there is also one country - New Zealand - that has reversed its decision to privatize prisons. In the U.S., however, private prisons have become a huge industry: About 14 percent of all federal prisoners and about 6 percent of the state prisoners are held in private prisons. The prison industry is already in second place, right after the high-tech industry, in the ranking of growth: The four leading companies, whose profits came to no less than $2.3 billion dollars in 2004, are growing at the rate of 5.9 percent annually. As they grow stronger, so too does their public influence and thus their lobbying efforts with the aim of making criminal legislation and punishment policy more stringent. No wonder then that the number of prisoners in the United States, which a few years before the establishment of the first private prison stood at 280,000, has burgeoned since then to 2.13 million today. This monstrous number is higher than the number of prisoners in China, where the population is four times greater than that of the United States. "Private prisons are not the only reason for this increase, but there is no doubt that their lobbying activity is one of the reasons for the increasing stringency of punishment and the increase in the number of prisoners," says attorney Aviv Wasserman, the head of the human rights division at the Academic College of Law in Ramat Gan, whose petition to the High Court of Justice against the decision to establish a private prison here is still pending. Wasserman believes that here, too, we will see such lobbying campaigns in the future. "Even now there is talk about the need for toughness, but today they are discussing this with the participation of the Justice Ministry, the Israel Bar Association, academia and the human rights organizations," he says. "From now on there will also be participation in these discussions, for example in the Knesset House Committee, of Lev Leviev's representatives, who will want to increase the number of prisoners. This is a new player who has interests that are worth billions of shekels and will come with the best lawyers and public relations people. His weight could prove crucial." A request to interview Leviev has been unanswered but Ronny Rahav, the public relations person for Leviev's Africa-Israel Investments, has sent the following response in writing: "Africa-Israel's vision is to reach a situation in which the work of rehabilitating prisoners will rehabilitate them for the long term, so that they will not return to prison again. We do not see any need to intervene in legislative processes. We trust the state and its laws." There are three models for prison privatization. In the partial privatization model, the entrepreneur builds the prison and provides most of the services there (from equipment and food to medicine, rehabilitation and employment) but leaves its professional management in the hands of the state; the prison guards and officers are subordinate to the state and are employed by it rather than by the entrepreneur. In the full privatization model,in effect mostly in the United States, the entrepreneur is also responsible for the prison's operational management and is even authorized to try and punish the prisoners for disciplinary infractions. All of the members of the staff, including those who are authorized to try the prisoner and extend his term of imprisonment, are employed by the entrepreneur. Israel has decided to adopt a third model, which is implemented mainly in Britain: The entrepreneur manages the prison, as in the American model, but the authority to try and punish prisoners remains in the hands of the Prisons Service. Reducing expenditures "This model should not have been adopted," says Dr. Uri Timor, a lecturer in the criminology department of Bar-Ilan University, who inspects conditions in the Prisons Service facilities on behalf of the Israeli Council for Criminology, an organization of academics. Timor believes that the franchisee must not be allowed to employ the prison guards because studies done in the private prisons elsewhere have shown that the entrepreneurs tend to increase their profits by means of hiring untrained personnel, at low wages and without social benefits. Another way of decreasing expenditures entails cutting to the minimum the period of training for the prison guards. The terrible employment conditions, explains Timor, leads to a high turnover of prison employees and the lack of training results in unprofessional work. The combination of the two phenomena turns the private prisons into facilities with a high rate of violent incidents, in which the prisoners' rights are violated daily. Timor believes that this will happen in Be'er Sheva as well. "The cost of the wages of a prison guard in the Prisons Service, including benefits and pension, comes to NIS 20,000 a month," he explains. "For a private company whose main interest is profit this is a very large sum of money. What will they do? They will take students, train them for a day or two and pay them the minimum wage without social benefits. This has to have a bad effect on their work. And this is a pity, because in the Prisons Service there is very professional and skilled manpower. In the Prisons Service prisons perhaps the walls are crumbling but the management is quiet and serious, with very little violence." "A prison guard is not a shopping mall security guard, and we have no intention of hiring prison guards the way security guards are employed at a mall," responds Orit Adato. The contract that has been signed between the state and the franchisee that she is advising does not stipulate the wages or the method of employment at the prison, but Adato promises that the pay "will be above the minimum wage," and that "an incentive method" will be used that will reduce the turnover of prison guards. "The method of employment will provide incentive for the prison guard to continue to work at the prison," she says. "The longer he works, the better the social benefits he will be given. In the Prisons Service, too, they are no longer granting tenure until pension age and are giving five-year contracts instead." "We are well aware of the negative phenomena of the high rate of prison guard turnover," says Commander Glick, who is slated to supervise the work of the franchisee on behalf of the Prison Service. "As the state cannot dictate the prison guards' pay to the franchisee, we decided to stipulate for the franchisee the maximum rate of prison guard turnover that will be allowed. Every time the turnover is more than what is permitted, we will impose a monetary fine on him." Glick also says that the Prisons Service will determine for the franchisee the length of the training that prison guards will receive ("no less than 250 hours"), and that it will be forbidden to employ prison guards who have not been approved by the Prisons Service. "It could be that the franchisee will want to hire pensioners in order to save expenditures," he says. "It will not be able to do this, because we will not approve pensioners." "For every deviation the franchisee will be fined by us," promises Glick. "If a prisoner is murdered, it will be fined. The same applies if a prison guard is attacked, if there is an escape, if equipment is broken or if there are many complaints about insufficient food." He is convinced that supervision through fines, which has not proven itself against the commercial television franchises, will succeed against the private prison franchisees. And unlike the practice in the broadcast industry the rates for the fines here will be kept secret. "We have to maintain secrecy," he explains, "because if the prisoners know, for example, how much the fine is for breaking a window or many complaints about the food, they will be able to blackmail the management and take control of the whole prison." Dr. Yoav Sapir, the deputy chief public defender at the Justice Ministry, is opposed in principle to private prisons ("I find a strong moral discord in the fact that wealthy tycoons will make more money from people's suffering") and has difficulty believing that the Prisons Service will indeed manage to prevent the negative phenomena that characterize the system in the U.S. "The only way that the franchisee can increase his profits is on the backs of the prisoners and the prison guards," he says on the basis of the American experience. "The franchisee always tries to give the minimum and argues about the interpretation of the requirements of the supervisory body. If the contract requires him to give three meals a day, he will argue about the interpretation of the word `meals.' And if he is required to give each prisoner a soup spoon, he will argue about the size of the spoon. In the U.S. there have been prison guards who were fired because they gave a prisoner an extra spoonful of soup. At nearly every private prison there is a shortage of clothing, the medical service is flawed, mental health services hardly exist, and the rehabilitation programs are minimal." Sapir thinks that much of this will happen here. Adato promises it won't because the franchisee will take care to act according to the contract, which "requires us, for example, to give medical and educational services at a higher level than in the Prisons Service," and Glick says the Prisons Service will thwart every attempt by the franchisee to act in this way. Waiting for the High Court Construction of the private prison, which is scheduled to operate in 2008, will begin in a few months, unless the High Court decides otherwise. A bench headed by Justice Dorit Beinisch, which deliberated on attorney Wasserman's petition about two months ago, issued a show-cause order for the state to explain "the boundary of appropriate privatization." Wasserman argues that prison privatization does away with the state's monopoly on the use of force against citizens. The justices so far refrained from disqualifying his contention. The state's reply is to be given in the middle of December, with the justices expected to rule by the end of the month. If the High Court does not reject privatization outright, the success or failure of the prison will depend on the quality of the Prisons Service supervision. Glick promises that this will be "extremely close" and will be "carried out in real time." However, neither the size of the supervisory team nor its ways of working is yet clear. "What is already clear at this time," says Glick, "is that the supervisors will be working on the prison premises and the franchisee will be obligated to connect all of its computers to the Prisons Service computers. In that way we will know about everything that happens inside the prison." Timor is skeptical. "The Israeli experience in the area of supervising franchisees is not really encouraging," he says. "It suffices to read the state comptroller's reports about the TV franchisees, the gas companies that maintain containers in hazardous conditions, the old age homes and the psychiatric hospitals. I do not have many reasons for believing that the Prison Service will know how to supervise any better than all the other supervisory bodies in the country."

November 16, 2005 IDEX
Israel's best known diamantaire, Lev Leviev, will soon own a private jail. His Africa-Israel real estate firm won a bid to build and operate Israel's first private jail. Leviev and Minrav, another Israeli real estate firm, will build the 200 million NIS ($42.25 million) and operate it for 25 years before turning it over to the state. The state will pay the jail according to the number of prisoners being held at any one time. In a release, the companies said they "consider themselves financial organizations with a social mission." The successful bidders will operate rehabilitation projects, though they might not include diamond polishing. Leviev privately owns the LLD Group, which incorporates all his diamond related enterprises - mining, polishing plants, and various wholesaling and retailing joint ventures. Africa-Israel, a publicly traded company which Leviev controls, owns real estate in Israel and Eastern Europe, a large 7-Eleven franchise, an Israeli toll road, energy projects, fashion companies and several media operations.

November 16, 2005 Globes
Minrav Holdings Ltd. (TASE:MNRV) and Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE:AFIL; Pink Sheets:AFIVY) will set up Israel's first private prison, announced an inter-ministerial committee responsible for the matter today. Minrav and Africa-Israel beat a consortium comprising Solel Boneh Building and Infrastructure, Dankner Investments, and GEPSA of France. Lev Leviev controls Africa Israel, and Abraham Kuznitsky is chairman and CEO of Minrav. Minrav and Africa-Israel will build the prison and operate it for 25 years, during which period the state will pay an annual sum for each prisoner, under the private finance initiative (PFI) method. The contract is worth NIS 1.4 billion, including NIS 250 million in construction costs. Minrav and Africa-Israel will be paid NIS 64 million a year, amounting to NIS 1.6 billion over the period of the contract. They will also receive a NIS 47 million set-up grant, to be paid when construction of the prison is completed and the state authorizes its operation. Minrav and Africa-Israel are expected to get an annual return of 6-10% on the investment. Construction of the prison is scheduled to begin in early 2006, and to be completed within three years. Located south of Beersheva, the prison will house 800-1,000 low to medium-risk inmates.

October 28, 2005 The Jerusalem Post
The High Court of Justice on Thursday gave the state 60 days to explain which of its responsibilities regarding the imprisonment of criminals could be farmed out to a private entrepreneur and which it was bound by the country's constitutional system to reserve for itself. The decision came at the end of a hearing on a petition against a Knesset amendment to the Prison Ordinance allowing for the establishment of a private prison. The petitioners, the Human Rights Division of the Netanya Academic College of Law and retired Gundar Shlomo Tweezer, called on the court to overturn the law on the grounds that it violated the Basic Law: Government and the human rights granted to prisoners by the Basic Law: Human Freedom and Dignity. The tender for the prison has already been issued and the state's representative at the hearing, attorney Yochi Gnessin, told the court the winner was to be chosen within the next few weeks. At the beginning of the hearing, Justice Dorit Beinisch, who headed the panel of three justices, interrupted the attorneys for the petitioners, Gilad Barnea and Aviv Wasserman, and appeared to be hostile to the petition. The court's policy, in general, is to not overrule Knesset legislation because of the constitutional principle of separation of powers. But as the hearing proceeded, she seemed to tone down her comments. Barnea charged that the amendment marked the first time the government is privatizing prerogatives belonging to the core of its responsibilities." Beinisch interrupted Barnea and told him it was not the first time and that the government had already privatized other crucial services. The question Barnea continued was where to draw the line. "Until what point can the state make itself smaller?" he asked the court. "In this case the government has given up all its prerogatives and allowed a private company to implement them and make decisions generally reserved for the government." According to the amendment the prison will be run entirely by the private company. Prison officials will be empowered to punish prisoners for misconduct deprive them of benefits and strip search them. Beinisch replied that the government had still not worked out the details of how the prison would be run by the government. The current law called for a single pilot project to see how it worked she added. "A pilot is an experiment using human beings retorted Barnea. The amendment is not a provisional law and the idea of building one experimental private prison will get lost. There is no precedent for this in terms of the breadth and depth of the prerogatives granted to a private company regarding people whose human rights must be protected." According to Gnessin the Knesset had not forcibly deprived the executive of its prerogatives to run prisons. On the contrary it was the state that willingly yielded the prerogatives. Therefore the petitioners were wrong in maintaining that the law violated the Basic Law: Government. Furthermore he said the amendment did not deprive the government of all its rights and responsibilities regarding the imprisonment of criminals; the details still had to be worked out. At this point in the proceedings Justice Ayala Procaccia asked the state attorneys to list the prerogatives the state felt it could give up and those which it could not transfer to private hands. The court turned her question into a decision ordering the state to provide the list within 60 days and giving the petitioners 30 days to respond.

April 14, 2005 Jerusalem Post
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel appealed to the Supreme Court against a decision by the Tel Aviv District Administrative Court, rejecting its petition to disclose the details of the tender for the first privately run prison in Israel. Attorney Dori Spivak said he submitted the petition to the district court after the government refused his request to read the more than 1,000 pages of the tender. "The authorities are trying to avoid public supervision of their activities and make a fait accompli by choosing the winner and signing a contract before the public has the chance to realize its right to examine the details of the tender," charged Spivak.

March 16, 2005 Jerusalem Post
The Human Rights Division of the Academic College of Law in Ramat Gan and a retired prison commander on Wednesday petitioned the High Court of Justice against a law paving the way for establishing a private prison in Israel. The petitioners charged that the law contradicts the Basic Law: Government and the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom. The government law went into effect on March 31, 2004. It grants the Israel Prison Service the right to allow a private company to "build, administer and operate" a prison. In initiating the law, the government explained that state prisons were badly overcrowded, lacked minimal hygienic conditions and provided poor medical services and that it did not have the money to improve the existing ones or build new ones. The petitioners also wrote that even though prisoners have lost some of their personal freedoms, they continue to have basic rights guaranteed by the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom. They warned that these rights will be jeopardized by the fact that the private company will have so much power over them, that the manpower in these prisons can be expected to be of low quality and that the state will not be able to closely supervise the affairs in the prison.

November 24,  2003
Gunmen killed two civilian Israeli security guards near Jerusalem last night as they were keeping watch near the West Bank barrier that Israel is building, Israeli security officials said.  In other violence, Israeli soldiers shot dead two Palestinians, one an 11-year-old boy, in separate confrontations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Palestinians and the Israeli military said.  The two security guards were gunned down near Abu Dis, a suburb on the eastern edge of Jerusalem, where part of the barrier is under construction. The guards, who were traveling in a car when they were shot, were employed by a private security firm.  (The Seattle Times)

July 10, 2003
Four proposals were submitted yesterday, in the early stages of the tender, for establishing a new prison in Be'er Sheva.  The interministerial tender issued a tender for the planning, establishment and operation of the prison as part of the state's efforts to privatize the prisons.  The tender has two stages. The early phase is
when the committee decides which bodies are eligible to bid for the project. The second phase, which will need to be accompanied by Knesset legislation granting the rights for the private franchise, will determine which bid wins the project.  The winner of the bid will be responsible for planning, building and operating the prison, and will be similar to the British model of privatized prisons.  (

October 10, 2002
The security conglomerate Group 4 Falck, which pioneered the private contracting of detention facilities and prisons in Britain, has decided to withdraw the private guards employed by one of its offshoots at Israeli settlements in the West Bank after the Guardian raised questions about their behavior and the legality of their role.  The company, the world's second biggest security firm, took a controlling stake earlier this year in an Israeli security company, Hashmira, which employs at least 100 armed guards at settlements.  A Guardian investigation in the settlement of Kedumim showed that Hashmira's guards work closely with Israel's military and security apparatus.  In the name of "security" the guards, many of whom are settlers, routinely prevent Palestinian villagers from cultivating their own fields, traveling to schools, hospitals and shops in nearby towns, and receiving emergency medical assistance.  With prisons in the United States, Australia and South Africa, as well as the UK, Group 4 Falck has earned a reputation for pushing private security into new domains.  With 230,000 employees in more than 80 countries, Group 4 Falck is at the vanguard of a globalising private security industry projected to earn revenues of $200 bn by 2001.  Group 4 Falck, based in Denmark, paid $30m in March for a 50% stake in Hashmira, Israel's largest private security company.  But reports last month in the Danish newspaper Politiken that Hashmira, its new acquisition, was operating in the West Bank sparked outrage among Danish MPs and human rights experts.  "They are making money off people's misery and are complicit in the maintenance of settlements which the UN has with absolute clarity deemed illegal," said the Danish Socialist MP Soren Sondergaard.  (Guardian Unlimited)

Mar 12, 2016
G4S Sells Business in Israel Amid Accusations of Being Complicit to Human Rights Abuses in Prisons
The world’s largest security firm is selling its business in Israel, yet the reason why is up for debate. G4S announced on Thursday that the news was for purely “commercial reasons,” however a boycott campaign against the company is taking responsibility, according to Newsweek. The global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign claims G4S was complicit in Israeli human rights abuses within the prisons it operated in against Palestinian prisoners. “Since 2013, we have been running a review of our business portfolio to determine which businesses we want to remain invested in and which we are looking to divest from, purely to streamline the business and to get a greater degree of strategic focus,” G4S Spokesman Nigel Fairbrass said in the report. The security company has 8,000 employees in Israel and while it says none work at prisons or are in control of prisons in the West Bank, it supplies the prisons with security equipment. BDS has criticized investors in G4S for their involvement with the company. In fact, The Bill Gates Foundation was pressured into selling its $170 million stake in the company in 2014 when protests occurred outside of its offices in Seattle, London and Johannesburg, according to the report. “As at the height of the international boycott of apartheid South Africa, BDS pressure is making some of the world’s largest corporations realize that profiting from Israeli apartheid and colonialism is bad for business,” said Mahmoud Nawajaa, a spokesman for the Palestinian BDS National Committee. “We are starting to notice a domino effect.”

Dec 6, 2015
A UN body that has been facing pressure to end its links with security company G4S over its role in Israeli human rights abuses has announced that it no longer has contracts with the company. G4S has been providing services to UNHCR in Jordan but a spokesperson told a reporter last Monday that the body does not have any contracts with the firm. The announcement was made following a wave of protests online and at UN offices across 5 major cities over the weekend calling on the UN to end all of its contracts $22m worth of contracts with G4S. G4S is the target of an international campaign over its role in Israeli prisons and check points and the fact it helps to run an Israeli police academy. Investigations in September 2014 found G4S guards to be working at UNHCR buildings in Amman and at Syrian refugee camps in Zaatari and Azraq, leading to the start of BDS campaigning on the issue. UN documents show that UNHCR in Jordan had contracts with G4S worth $1.7m in 2014. Sources familiar with the matter have told campaigners that UNHCR started moving security contracts from G4S to a local company earlier this year. Other UN bodies including UNICEF, the UNDP and UNOPS still have contracts with the company. More than 200 organisations have called on the UN to bar the organisation from having contracts doing so violates the UN’s procurement code of conduct. The #UNdropG4S campaign has set up a web page that makes it easy for people to write to the UN to voice their concerns and are urging people to join a Thunderclap social media action. Yazeed Halaseh, member of the Jordan BDS group who campaign against G4S in Jordan, said: “We welcome the announcement of UNHCR in Jordan that it is no longer hiring G4S. G4S is at the heart of Israel’s use of mass incarceration to repress Palestinian opposition to its military occupation and settler colonialism. We hope that the UN will listen to the thousands of people who are taking action and will end all of its contracts with G4S.” Reverend Don Wagner, Friends of Sabeel North America, who began investigating the relationship between G4S and the UN in 2014, said: “We were shocked to discover G4S agents ushering refugees into the UNHCR Amman office in September of 2014. News that this office no longer holds contracts with G4S is refreshing. It builds momentum for the UN as a whole to follow suit and to uphold human rights and human dignity everywhere.” Rafat Sub Laban from Palestinian prisoner rights group Addameer, who started lobbying the UN on its contracts with G4S in April, said: “Recent weeks have seen a wave of mass arrests by Israeli occupation forces aimed at repressing protests and imposing control and collective punishment on Palestinians in the occupied territory. Since the beginning of October, Israeli occupation forces arrested over 2,050 Palestinians including at least 350 children and over 210 Palestinians including 4 minors who were placed under administrative detention without charge or trial. Many of those who were arrested remain detained by Israel.” “These political prisoners are held in prisons and interrogation centres that G4S helps Israel to run, making G4S complicit in Israel’s torture, ill-treatment and administrative detention without charge or trial of Palestinians. “Addameer welcomes this news from UNHCR in Jordan and hopes the UN will now terminate all its contracts with G4S and to distance itself from complicity in human rights violations.” In June 2014, the Gates Foundation divested the whole of its $170m holding in the company as a result of an international campaign. The US Methodist Church, the largest protestant church in the US, divested from G4S after coalition campaigning brought the issue to a vote. Universities in Oslo and Bergen refused to give G4S contracts over its role in Israel’s prison system following student campaigns. In the UK, at least 5 student unions have voted to cancel contracts with G4S, and students successfully pressured 2 other universities not to renew contracts with the company. Major charities in South Africa, the Netherlands and elsewhere terminated contracts with G4S. Facing mounting international pressure, G4S announced in 2014 that G4S “did not expect to renew” its contract with the Israeli Prison Service when it expires in 2017, and it has also said it will end some aspects of its involvement in illegal Israeli settlements. BDS activists have said they will continue their campaign until G4S ends all aspects of its support for Israeli violations of international law.