Released prisoners praise Saudi king’s amnesty, promise to reform

The prisoners believed the new king’s decision would give them the courage to rectify their lives

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Prison directorates all over Saudi Arabia have released more than 200 people and are preparing for the early release of more inmates as stated in Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman’s royal decree.

Makkah Prisons Directorate released the second batch of 11 prisoners as part of the recent amnesty.

Makkah Prisons Director Col. Saleh Al-Qahtani said the directorate’s early release committee is working on finalizing the process for releasing all prisoners covered by the decree.

He said: “We are releasing the prisoners in batches as ordered by the Ministry of Interior.

“The directorate will ensure all prisoners included in the royal decree will be released early and no one will be mistakenly or purposely left out.”

The prisoners were said to be elated with the news and believed the new king’s decision would give them the courage to rectify their lives.

H.M., a 35-year-old former prisoner, said he was sentenced to a year in prison for being involved in a robbery.

He spent 11 months in prison but has now been released.

He said: “That was my first and last time in prison. I will now go to Makkah for Umrah to pray for my late father and King Salman.”

S.H., a 40-year-old former prisoner, was also sentenced to five years in prison for robbery. He completed two years and 11 months of his sentence before finding out he would be among the released prisoners.

He said: “I am happy to go back to my family and three children. I missed them immensely and I just want to spend the rest of my life by their side. The first thing I’ll do is head straight to my parents’ house.”

A.F., a 50-year-old drug addict, was sentenced to prison for five years. He completed three years of his sentence and was released early.

“The royal decree released us back into society after doing time behind bars. I will never repeat my crime again. Once in jail was enough for me.”

F. M., a 42-year-old drug addict, was sentenced to four years in prison. He spent two years in prison but was released early.

He said: “The entire facility was booming with the cries of gratitude and the praise of Allah for the mercy and forgiveness of King Salman. I am going to continue my education and find a decent job to support my three children.”

Meanwhile, Jeddah Prisons Directorate released the first batch of prisoners on Saturday and continues to prepare the second batch.

Jeddah Prisons Director Brig. Gen. Ahmad Al-Shahrani met the released prisoners before they went home to their families to congratulate them and reassure them that the directorate is always in support of justice. He said: “The Royal Family believes that every citizen has the potential to be a productive member of society.”

The prisoners expressed their gratitude over the service the directorate provides. They said the directorate has given them useful workshops, guidance and rehabilitation programs to ensure that they will return to the society as effective and productive people.

Madinah Prisons Deputy Director Col. Nasser Al-Sirani said 56 prisoners were released as part of the directorate’s first batch. The early release committee in Taif met on Sunday to finalize the process and prepare for the release of 200 prisoners this week.

Taif Prisons Director Brig. Gen. Muadi Al-Bugamy said the committee consists of representatives from the directorate, police, municipality and anti-drugs committees. Meanwhile, Baha Emir Prince Mishari Bin Saud formed five early release committees in Baha and its various governorates.

Baha Prisons Director Brig. Gen. Eshq Al-Shibani said the committees released more than 50 Saudi and non-Saudi prisoners.

He said: “We are still not done with the process. More prisoners’ files will be reviewed and more will be released as stated in the royal decree.”

Jazan Emir Prince Muhammad Bin Nasser also formed early release committees to implement the royal decree.

The Jazan Municipality spokesman Ali Zala said the committees “are working day and night to make sure that no one is deprived of their right to be released early.”

This article was first published the Saudi Gazette on Feb. 2, 2015

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