Herzog Kills Proposal to Grant Clemency to 1,500 Prison Inmates

President Chaim Herzog, in apparent agreement with Justice Minister Moshe Nissim, today killed a proposal by Police Minister. Haim Barlev to grant clemency to some 1,500 inmates in Israel’s prisons.

The proposal, which would have shortened by three months the sentences of prisoners due to be released in the new Jewish year — some 400 would be released by Rosh Hashanah — was aimed at easing Israel’s overcrowded prisons.

Barlev made his proposal during a visit with Premier Shimon Peres to Ramla prison yesterday. He also revealed plans to build a tent camp in the Negev to rehabilitate security prisoners. It would accommodate some 1,000 prisoners.

According to Barlev, the Justice Ministry considered a proposed bill to shorten prison sentences by half instead of a third for good behavior. However, any decision on the proposal required Presidential approval, after a review of the recommendations by the Justice Minister.

Herzog and Nissim appeared to concur that there was no room for an across-the-board Presidential pardon. Such clemency, according to a Presidential spokesman, could only take place through Knesset legislation. The President, the spokesman asserted, reviewed clemency applications on an individual basis only.

The spokesman also expressed indirect criticism of Barlev for making public his proposal as it is the opinion of the President that matters of clemency should be dealt with discretely. Herzog consulted with Nissim prior to making public his decision.

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