Israeli National Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich criticized the high number of United States citizens in prison in a speech Wednesday and said it's a problem he aims to avoid. The majority of crime is carried out by average citizens, not serial criminals, and the two categories should be treated as separate phenomena, he said, according to the Jerusalem Post.
"We don't want a large percentage of people in jail. We don't want to be like the U.S. We need to educate regular citizens to observe the law," Alsheich said in a speech aimed at winning back the public's trust following a number of scandals, including the bungling of a few high-profile cases.
"A regular citizen is embarrassed to go to jail," Alsheich said, while a serial criminal is not, since that person defines themselves as a criminal.
In his comments, made to the Israel Bar Association conference in Eilat, Israel, the police chief said his plan calls for police to work with citizens at the local level, instead of a larger focus on national crime statistics. That means talking with local groups, officials and sheikhs, he added, according to the Jerusalem Post.
In Alsheich's plan, local police leaders would set benchmarks for improving local problems like noise violations or the spread of illegal weapons. It aims to compel people to follow the law, reducing arrests, indictments and convictions.
The United States has the highest prison population at about 716 per 100,000 people. More than half the countries on a list compiled by the U.K.'s International Center for Prison Studies had rates under 150 per 100,000. Israel came in at about 223 per 100,000 people. After decades of growth, however, the U.S. imprisonment rate has declined for the past six years, according to the Washington Post.
Alsheich was named police commissioner last year after the force had been rocked by several scandals involving allegations of sexual abuse and fraud.