Friday, December 2, 2016

More things we ought to know about Aleh

A prisoner and an Aleh "resident" [Image Source: Israel 21C]
I took a break from grappling with Chaya's physical issues to email the International Corrections and Prison Association (a.k.a. the ICPA) this week. They are a nongovernmental organization in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Why in the world did I do that?

Well, some of you know how riled I am by Aleh's prisoner rehabilitation program [some background] which it touts up the wazoo in both the Israeli and the foreign media.

Aleh's PR whiz team don't let anybody forget that the program won an award. And that is one detail about the program that is 100% accurate. The ICPA did in fact bestow the Offender Management and Reintegration Award on that Aleh program in 2011.

The Aleh program enables 26 felons to leave prison and swap their prison uniforms for civies every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to interact one-on-one with some of Israeli society's most vulnerable citizens - those with profound disabilities.

This preposterous program plays out at the institution operated by Aleh in the middle of Israel's desert where the prisoners are assigned to male residents of young adult age or older. The felons, some serving seven year terms, are, according to Aleh, harmless. Nevertheless Aleh itself, by its own admission, keeps them away from its female residents, its children and its hydrotherapy. Apparently the male residents - equally at risk - just don't rate!

Given the kudos that Aleh has showered upon itself for this program and for that international award, it would be fair to presume that other institutions around the world are emulating it. So  I checked that out.

The very organization that granted it an award could not name another such program anywhere else in the world when I approached them. Instead it referred the question to the Israel Prisons Service. Here is the response I got from them this week:
Dear Frimet Roth

I received your question from Fraser Brayns [of the ICPA]

As you know, this is a unique project that was initiated at the Israel prison service.

I asked around and We are not familiar with similar projects that are currently being implemented in other countries. [I added the emphasis - FR]

Please don't hesitate to contact me on any further question.

Best wishes

And on the financial front where Aleh manages to infuriate those who truly care about people with disabilities, here is this choice tidbit from Haaretz of April 19, 2016:
"Among other things, Budget Key [data analysts of government funding] investigators discovered that Aleh Negev, which runs a rehabilitation center in the Negev, saw its allocations from the government nearly double in 2015. The organization is headed by Avi Wurtzman of the Habayit Hayehudi party, who had been due to become a Knesset member with the resignation of Yinon Magal late last year... 1.2 million shekels ($317,000) in government funding, compared with 693,000 shekels the year before." 
Smelling a bit fishy to you too? You can  read more here.

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