Inmates were cuffed hand and foot as a punishment, sometimes for months on end, while prisoners considered suicidal remained in restraints for long periods without access to proper medical care, according to a recent report on conditions in Israeli prisons in 2009 and 2010.
The report, issued by the Justice Ministry’s Public Defender’s Office, reveals widespread overcrowding, poor hygienic conditions and excessive punitive measures in most facilities.
In the Sharon Prison, for example, the agency found a policy of restraining suicidal inmates to their beds in order to punish them rather than in order to protect them.
One prisoner was found to have been kept in bed with arm and leg restraints for several hours, during which time he was unable to eat, smoke, cover himself with a blanket or go to the toilet. The restraints were so tight they left red marks on the prisoner’s wrists.
In Tsalmon Prison representatives of the Public Defender’s Office observed a prisoner kept in bed with arm and leg restraints in a stench-filled cell with cockroaches crawling on the walls. The prisoner, who is being treated with psychiatric drugs, told PDO officials he had been held for a number of months in this way. He said that in order to use the toilet he had to shout for a guard stationed some distance away, at the entrance to the wing.
PDO officials observed an inmate at Hadarim Detention Center who had been cuffed to his bed 24 hours a day for five and a half months, and afterward remained in restraints at night, for 13 hours a day, for an additional period of about six months.