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6 Cambridge Student L. Rev. 326 (2010)
Prison Privatisation in Israel: Important Transnational Lessons

handle is hein.journals/camslr6 and id is 330 raw text is: Cambridge Student Law Review

PRISON PRIVATISATION IN ISRAEL: IMPORTANT TRANSNATIONAL LESSONS
Amy LUDLOW
This case note examines a decision of the Israeli High Court ofJustice which was handed
down in November 2009: Academic Center ofLaw & Business, Human Rights Division
v. Minister of Finance. In this case, a majority court granted the applicants' petition
holding that the Law Amending the Prisons Ordinance (No. 28) 2004, which enabled
Israeli prisons to be operated and managed by private profit-seeking companies, was
unconstitutional. The very principle of prison privatisation was held to violate prospec-
tive prisoners' rights to individual liberty and human dignity. Drawing upon a translated
judgment summary, media reports and articles, the author will explain the legal and
political background to this litigation and describe the Court's decision, reflecting in
particular upon its importance for the wider legal community.
I. INTRODUCTION
On 19 November 2009, the Israeli Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, handed down
its judgment in the case of Academic Center ofLaw & Business, Human Rights Division v. Minister ofFi-
nance. The petitioners argued that the Law Amending the Prisons Ordinance (No. 28) 2004 (hereinaf-
ter Amendment 28), which enabled Israeli prisons to be operated and managed by private profit-seeking
companies was unconstitutional. Judgment was eagerly anticipated since the court's deliberations had
lasted some two and a half years. However, few, if any, commentators appear to have anticipated the
power and international resonance with which the Court would speak. Consequently, the case has been
widely reported and discussed in the Israeli media.
This case note will draw upon a translated judgment summary, media reports and articles to explain
the legal and political background to this litigation and describe the Court's decision.2 By way of con-
clusion, the author hopes to reflect upon the potential significance of this judgment for the wider legal
community in terms of how we confront and analyse the legal challenges privatisation presents within
our own legal systems.
II. LITIGATION BACKGROUND
In 2003, in response to a shortage of prison space, concerns about prison conditions and spiralling
costs, a series of discussions about potential prison privatisation were being held in the offices of the
Israeli Ministry of Public Security and the Attorney General. By March of that year, a team had visited
private prisons in England, Scotland and France and was in a position to present their findings. Suit-
ably impressed, the Attorney General requested a ministerial team to draw up legislation to enable the
* Ph.D. Candidate in Law, Trinity College, University of Cambridge.
I HCJ 2605/05, Israeli Supreme Court sitting as the High Court of Justice.
2 CThe ful official judgment translation has still not been published by the Court. All referenced online resources were last accessed
on 12th March 2010.

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