Friday, November 23, 2007

Inside the 5-Star Jail

Tuesday, 20 November 2007
By Mohammed Al-Kinani and Adel Al-Malki
The Buraidah Jail Department has allocated a cell that relatively speaking, is of five-star status for prisoners who behave well. According to prison officials, the idea is to further motivate prisoners change and improve themselves. "Any prisoner can join that particular ward no matter what his wrongdoing was," said an official at the Buraidah Jail.
There are rules an inmate must adhere to, though, when inside the five-star jail. Among these are performing prayers on a regular basis, quitting smoking, and, of course, exhibiting exemplary demeanor.
Jail officials also supply the inmates different sources of knowledge. "We give prisoners religious lectures and lessons. We have also designated an area for teaching detainees different abstract courses," he said.
Detainees also get advice from well-qualified scholars as Hamad Al-Saqa'abi, who prisoners look at as a father.
A prisoner said they benefit from the programs being implemented in the five-star cell. "I thank all the people who are behind this idea. I have memorized the whole Qur'an during my stay here - something made possible by the psychological comfort we find here," he said.
Buraidah Voluntary Store that finances the section, has spent over SR2 million on making the five-star jail not only an example on how such places should - or could - be, but also how prisoners must behave.
Maj. Gen. Ahmed Al-Zahrani, Director of Jeddah Prison, said that Saudi jails are not like any other prisons in the world.
"Islam urges us to treat man gently wherever he is found," he said.
"The government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques expects us to be nice to those who committed a wrongdoing, believing that they can be rehabilitated to become effective members of society," he added.
Al-Zahrani confirmed that all prisoners they receive are exposed to the programs of the five-star jail.
"A prisoner undergoes a health checkup when he comes to us, then we investigate whether his family needs any assistance. If so, we coordinate with the appropriate authorities to lend them a hand," said Al-Zahrani.

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