(July 20, 2009) On July 8, 2009, the Knesset (Israel's parliament) passed a temporary measure authorizing the Prisons Service Authority to use electronic devices on prisoners released on bail or whose sentence was suspended. The new powers include auditing the activation of electronic surveillance devices and coordinating the different units that participate in activation of the electronic surveillance. The law is valid for 18 months, but the Minister of Internal Security is authorized, upon the approval of the Knesset Committee for Science and Technology, to extend the validity of the law for an additional period not to exceed 12 months.
According to explanatory notes of the bill, electronic surveillance is an alternative to imprisonment and will assist the Ministry of Internal Security in addressing the problem of the shortage of prisons, minimize prison crowding, and improve conditions of incarceration without harming public security. The electronic surveillance program has already been in operation since 2005 under different authorities and has been administered through a special unit with the assistance of a civilian company selected by public bid. (Law on Electronic Supervision of Prisoners Released on Bail or Whose Sentence Was Suspended (Temporary Provision) Law and Relevant Bill, 5769-2009, Knesset website, http://www.knesset.gov.il (last visited July 16, 2009).)