Judge Decries Youth Crime Recidivism Rate

High Court Building. Photo by Yossi Zamir/Flash90
High Court building in Yerushalayim. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

The recidivism rate for teen criminals in Israel is about 75 percent, it emerged during a High Court hearing Tuesday. According to justice Yitzchak Amit, three out of every four 18 and unders who were sentenced to time in jail or a reformatory return to their cells within a couple of years of being released. The recidivism rate for teens is by far the highest for any age group in Israel.

According to Amit, the reason for this is that the Prisons Service is simply warehousing teens, failing to provide programs for them. Such programs, studies show, cut the recidivism rate by 50 percent, Amit said. Support for youthful offenders who are released is also limited; most released teens do not meet with parole officers, and there are very few employment or training programs designed for this population.

“It’s no secret that this situation is due to a lack of funds, but we must realize that society comes out ahead when investments in rehabilitation are made,” said Amit. “As I wrote in the decision on the case before us, parolees who enter a treatment and parole program know what is expected of them, but others who are released to the streets have no moorings, so it’s not surprising that, as in this case, they return to committing crimes a short time after being released. This is a failing of the state.”

The comments were made in the context of a hearing at the court, in which a teen criminal who had brutally assaulted an elderly individual was seeking to reduce his sentence. He was sentenced to 17 years in jail, after he attacked an individual two months after being released from a sentence of 7 months.

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