Dawn roll call, prison food: Olmert’s new life

Former PM began serving a 19-month term in a special cell block that sports a synagogue, library, dining room and yard

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert enters prison to begin his sentence, in the central Israeli town of Ramle, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert enters prison to begin his sentence, in the central Israeli town of Ramle, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Israel’s Ehud Olmert began serving a 19-month jail term for corruption on Monday, becoming the country’s first ex-premier to exchange the perks of high office for the privations of life behind bars.

Here are details of his prison conditions:

Olmert has been assigned to special block 10 in Ma’asiyahu prison in the central city of Ramle. He was given the prisoner number 9032478.

Like any other prisoner, he was due on admission to be photographed, searched, given a medical examination and interviewed by various officials, including a social worker, before being assigned a cell.

Block 10 was “intended to house prisoners who for various reasons cannot be placed with the general prison population,” the Israel Prison Service said.

Olmert will join four other unidentified inmates in the block, which has a maximum capacity of 18, and he will eventually have to share a cell.

“Due to his position, he is subject to various threats and is in danger,” the prisons service added.

Socks and sweatshirts

Each of the six cells in block 10 has three beds, en suite shower and toilet, a closet and a table, chairs and television.

There are public telephones in the corridor, classrooms and a block recreation room, a visiting room, two rooms for consultations with lawyers, a room used as a synagogue, a library, sports equipment, dining room and yard.

Inmates are allowed to bring from home up to 1,500 shekels ($386, 344 euros) in cash, four pairs of underpants, four pairs of socks, two towels and two sweatshirts without hoods or lining.

They can also bring with them one blanket (not a duvet), two sheets, a pillowcase, and religious books, a prayer shawl and phylacteries, as well as soap, a tooth brush and tooth paste, and an ID card.

Roll call

Each day Olmert will be woken up at 5:00 am for a roll call and will undergo a 7:30 am inspection. He is entitled to receive and send letters, which can be examined by the prison. The prisoner has to pay for the stamps and envelopes.

When leaving court for appeal hearings, Olmert will have to wear a prison uniform, but while inside, he can wear civilian clothes.

He will be able to spend up to 1,600 shekels ($412, 367 euros) a month at the prison’s canteen on credit using money his family can wire to the prison.

Like the other 26,000 prisoners at Ma’asiyahu, Olmert will be granted leave in the case of mortal illness, a death in his immediate family, a wedding or a religious ceremony.

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