President Reuven Rivlin is considering an accelerated pardon program for prisoners in Israeli jails, he said on a visit to Tzalmon Prison in northern Israel Thursday. “The time between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are days in which forgiveness and pardon are primary themes, and this is the right time to meet with you,” Rivlin told prisoners, as he observed them in various jobs that they are engaged in the context of their incarceration.
The accelerated pardon program would take place in the coming months, with the pardons themselves issued in advance of Israel Independence Day next year – marking the 70th anniversary of the state’s founding.
“I receive numerous requests for pardons from convicted criminals,” the president said at the prison. “Some of these requests include emotionally moving stories about rehabilitation.” As president, Rivlin is empowered to pardon any prisoner he wishes to, and that, he said on the visit, “is the main responsibility of the president. It is a great honor, but also a great responsibility.”
On the visit, President Rivlin visited several sections of the prison, including one where former substance-abuse addicts were successfully able to kick their habits, and another in which convicts were receiving training in a range of skills and occupations, including painting, home and building repair, professional cooking, aluminum work, fiber-optic and network wiring, and more.
“You, who are succeeding in your work are proof that the philosophy that convicts, even if they have done wrong, are human beings, and as such can be rehabilitated and can be forgiven for their mistakes, is the proper one. Even those who have done wrong deserve a second, and even a third chance,” President Rivlin added.