Sunday, April 29, 2012

Jewish criminals shouldn't be jailed - Mishpacha Magazine

Mishpacha Magazine (April 4, 2012 p62): ... but does that give Rabbi Stein license to help Jews who have broken laws themselves? 'About 30 years ago, the Tosher Rebbe called me in the middle of the night," Rabbi Stein remembers. "He wanted me to get in touch at once with two top attorneys, Nat Lewin in Washington and AIan Dershowitz in Boston. 'But Rebbe,' I said, 'it's 2 a.m.!' He said, 'I want to teach you one thing, and keep this in mind always: a Yid vus zitz in tfisah ein sho iz ein sho tzi lang [A Jew who sits in jail one hour sits one hour too long] Prison is not a place for a Jew, and it doesn't matter, guilty or innocent.'

"There are many other ways to penalize someone who's deserving of punishment," continues Rabbi Stein, who is passionate about this controversial point. "For example, there are alternative sentencing programs, which are much more cost-effective, where the person is guided by counseling and is actually helped. Prison accomplishes one thing. It makes criminals out of everyone."

He says much of his efforts - for which he's never taken payment - involve finding the right attorney for someone who's in trouble The Beirach Moshe of Satmar once sent him to help a man who was awaiting sentencing for child abuse and other family-related crimes "The fellow wasn't too bright, and he had no idea how to protect himself. He had taken a divorce lawyer instead of a criminal lawyer," say. Rabbi Stein. "Lawyers are like doctors. You don't go to a podiatrist when you need open-heart surgery."

According to Rabbi Stein, the wife and her mother wanted to put the husband away and so they fabricated evidence and coached the daughter to give incriminating testimony. He discovered this after speaking to the involved parties, including teachers who denied ever filing the reports that had been submitted as evidence. “we found so many discrepancies that the DA agreed to reopen the case post-sentencing. But by the time we reopened the case, the child, her mother, and grandmother had fled the country and moved to Eretz Yisrael. We brought the teachers to testify that the documents were forgeries, and the judge said, 'Okay, now where are the plaintiffs?  The defense attorney said they couldn’t take the trauma so they left the country. The judge announced that if they didn’t come back in two weeks, he’d dismiss the case. Of course they didn’t come back, because the case was a fabrication - so the man was released. But he went to jail in the first place because he had the wrong lawyer.”

See the following regarding Rabbi Efraim Stein's efforts turned up by simple Google search
He is featured prominently on a number of anti-Semitic internet sites
Los Angeles Times 1997
Dror - Organization for Jewish Prisoners
Guilty plea to divert federal money
Jail for Rabbi Stein
Jail for Rabbi Stein

From my Child and Domestic Abuse Vol II

Rambam (Hilchos Chovel u’Mazik 8:11) and Shulchan Aruch (C.M. 388:12): “All those who disturb the community and cause it distress it is permitted to give them over to the secular government to be punished whether by beating, imprisonment or fines…”

Shevet HaLevi(4:124.3): Concerning a well known thief who has stolen from many people and has harmed the public and now he is begging to be released from jail. Is it properly to do that? … From all these sources we see that there is no concern at all to have him remain in jail in order that he not harm others since his life is not in danger there. The Chovas Yair (139) says there is only a concern when jail is actually life threatening… My opinion is that as long as there is no danger to his life by being in jail, there is no obligation to make any efforts to free such people…

Rav Moshe Halberstam(Yeschurun 15 page 651): An additional factor to what we have discussed is a question mentioned in Shevet HaLevi (4:124.3) whether it is appropriate to help free a well known thief who has begged that efforts be made to get him released from prison. Rav Wosner answers that since the thief’s life is not in danger by being in prison there is no obligation to make efforts to free people like this. In my opinion it is not only not an obligation to try and free a person in these circumstances but in fact one who tries to free a thief from prison is actually committing a sin. Who says that he won’t seek revenge for his imprisonment or at least return quickly to committing more crimes. Who can say that things will work out differently and that he will cease his crimes if he is freed?  Therefore it is prohibited to make efforts for him and to listen to his plea to be freed…

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Ve’aleyhi lo Yuval, volume 2:113-114 from R’ M Broyde’s Informing on other’s): R’ Yehuda Goldreicht said: “I asked Rav Auerbach about a particular Jew who stole a large sum of money and he was caught by the police in America. He was sentenced to a number of years in prison in America. Was it proper to assist in the collection of money for him [we were speaking about a large sum of $200,000] in order to fulfill the mitzvah of pidyon shevuyim to have him released from prison? When Rav Auerbach heard this he stated “Pidyon shevuyim?! What is the mitzvah of pidyon shevuyim here? The mitzvah of redeeming captives is only when the goyim are grabbing Jews, irrationally, for no proper reason, and placing them in prison. According to what I [Rav Auerbach] know, in America they do not irrationally grab Jews in order to squeeze money from them. The Torah says “do not steal” and he stole money—on the contrary, it is good that he serve a prison sentence, so that he learns not to steal!”


  1. Could you please let me know how I can be in touch with this Rabbi Stein. I too am in great need for an appropriate Lawyer.

  2. Where are Jewish criminals supposed to go?

  3. Are you saying Jews should be jailed?

    1. I have a chapter on this in volume II of my Child Abuse book.

      Rambam, Steipler, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Rav Eliashiv, Minchas Yitzchok Rav Moshe Halberstam and others say jail is appropriate punishment or at least not in violation of halacha
      See Rabbi Michael Broyde's article on "Informing on others"

    2. Daas Torah: Don't make it sound as if those poskim say jail is correct for a Jew anytime the secular government decrees it. They are only talking about a rodef who must be stopped from his active rodef activities.

    3. Are YOU saying non-Jewish criminals should be jailed but Jewish criminals shouldn't? I have my issues with the penal system and I happen to agree that it criminalizes more than it rehabilitates but that would apply across the board to everyone. If the system isn't going to be reformed in its entirety and jail is the only way to, say, keep society protected from predators then you gotta do what you gotta do, Jew or not.

    4. Please read the updated post.

      The original post was simply an excerpt from Mishpacha Magazine

    5. Well.. I'd rather he defraud a fake "Pidyon shvuim Fund" for prisoners who do not deserve to be redeemed, than a holocaust survivor fund...


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