The Jerusalem Post, Jerusalem, Israel – The Ofek detention center at Sharon Prison is Israel’s only detention facility for offenders under the age of 18. Now, thanks to the incorporation of forgiveness and repentence, the center is touting its successful rehabilitation strategy.
At a recent “celebratory seminar” held at the home of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, three boys from bad neighborhoods and poor families spoke of how someone suddenly taking interest in them, and noticing them and their needs, had made each of them rethink his options for the future.
They said they regard Ofek as more of a school than a detention center, and they are grateful to their teachers and social workers for their patience and faith in them, and for instilling them with hope and motivation. For those imprisoned with minimal schooling, Ofek staff helps them complete high school.
President Rivlin observed that while the concept of forgiveness is wonderful, it is not easy to ask for forgiveness, nor is it always easy to forgive. “And yet, a society without forgiveness is not a humane society,” he said. “It is a society in which we are doomed to be forever chained to the past, without the possibility of looking to the future.”
Youth justice policy in Israel is a problem-solving, individual-treatment, adopting welfare model. While in many Western countries juvenile justice has moved from a welfare approach to a punitive model, policies in Israel have modified and changed while retaining the traditional view that juvenile delinquents are to be treated and rehabilitated rather than punished.