Huge leap in num­ber of Jews be­hind bars

Fig­ures show rise of over 80 per cent, with vi­o­lence the­most­com­monof­fence

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY JOSH JACK­MAN

THE NUM­BER of Jews in prison has in­creased by 82 per cent since 2002, nearly four times more than the na­tional rate, the JC can re­veal.

Min­istry of Jus­tice fig­ures show that as of June this year, there are cur­rently 327 peo­ple reg­is­tered as Jewish in­car­cer­ated in jails in Eng­land and Wales. This is nearly dou­ble the equiv­a­lent fig­ure 13 years ago, when there were 179 Jewish in­mates.

The over­all prison pop­u­la­tion has gone up by 21 per cent in the same pe­riod, to 86,300.

This dis­pro­por­tion­ate rise is fur­ther em­pha­sised by cen­sus sta­tis­tics, which show that the num­ber of Jews in Eng­land and Wales went up from 2001 to 2011 by 3,419 — or 1.3 per cent. Vi­o­lence against the per­son Theft Drug of­fences Sex­ual of­fences Rob­bery Fraud of­fences Mis­cel­la­neous crimes against so­ci­ety Crim­i­nal dam­age and ar­son Pos­ses­sion of weapons Sum­mary non-mo­tor­ing of­fences Sum­mary mo­tor­ing of­fences Public or­der of­fences

The most com­mon crime Jews were con­victed of was vi­o­lence against another per­son, with nearly one-third of con­victs serv­ing time for the of­fence. This is more than twice the rate in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion, which stands at 13 per cent.

Ac­cord­ing to Rabbi Michael Bin­stock, di­rec­tor of Jewish Prison Chap­laincy, the fig­ures un­der­mined the stereo­type that Jewish of­fend­ers were more likely to be guilty of so-called white-col­lar crimes.

Rabbi Bin­stock, who also acts as Jewish faith ad­vi­sor to the Prison Ser­vice, said: “The myth is they’re all there for fraud, which is un­true. We have a lot of sex of­fend­ers, pae­dophiles and abusers, and sev­eral serv­ing life for mur­der — the full gamut of crime, in fact.”

The rabbi, who has been help­ing in­mates for more than four decades, also pointed out that though the num­ber of Jewish pris­on­ers has risen, it is still “low and very un­der-rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Jewish com­mu­nity”.

The most re­cent cen­sus in 2011 showed that Jews make up 0.47 per cent of peo­ple in Eng­land and Wales, while Jewish in­mates con­sti­tute 0.38 per cent of the prison pop­u­la­tion.

Af­ter vi­o­lence, the most preva­lent crimes in the com­mu­nity were theft, and drug and sex­ual of­fences.

Though Jews com­mit­ted pro­por­tion­ately much less theft than the wider pop­u­la­tion, three times more mem­bers of the com­mu­nity were con­victed for sex­ual of­fences and twice as many for rob­bery (theft by means of force or fear).

Jewish of­fend­ers were also more likely to be guilty of drug of­fences or fraud than the av­er­age con­vict.

Al­most three-quar­ters of Jews in prison for vi­o­lent of­fences had been given in­de­ter­mi­nate sen­tences, where in­mates are handed a re­lease date that is con­di­tional on pass­ing a pa­role hear­ing. This type of rul­ing, now de­funct, was given for se­ri­ous of­fences that also in­cluded sex­ual crimes.

Jus­tun­derone-in-three­Jewish­pris­on­ers re­ceived an in­de­ter­mi­nate sen­tence, and though the prac­tice no longer ex­ists, a Min­istry of Jus­tice spokesman em­pha­sised that the rul­ings would not be al­tered ret­ro­spec­tively, as they were “de­signed to pro­tect the public from se­ri­ous of­fend­ers whose crimes did not merit a life sen­tence”.

Ex­clud­ing those with in­de­ter­mi­nate sen­tences, more than one in ev­ery six Jewish in­mates are serv­ing sen­tences of 10 years or more.

More than one-third of those serv­ing the high­est cat­e­gory of de­ter­mined sen­tence — 14 years or more — were im­pris­oned for drug of­fences, more than for any other type of crime.

The fig­ures were ob­tained from the Min­istry of Jus­tice fol­low­ing a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest.

They also re­vealed that the num­ber of Mus­lim and Bud­dhist pris­on­ers has risen dra­mat­i­cally over the past 13 years, while the fig­ure for Angli­can Chris­tians has dropped by more than a third.

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