The Riyadh-based King Saud University (KSU) in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior embarked on an ambitious rehabilitation program for prisoners and ex-offenders here yesterday.
The initiative, which takes a wider holistic approach to the rehabilitation issue, seeks to involve academics and the community including psychologists and religious scholars to rehabilitate prisoners.
“This is a new approach in which the KSU’s National Center for Youth Studies (NCYS) will be involved in the rehabilitation process,” said Badran Al-Omar, KSU rector, while giving details of the program. He said the NCYS and the Ministry of Interior signed an agreement a week ago, focusing on improving life and opportunities for prisoners after their release.
Al-Omar said the NCYS has always been interested in investing in the future.
“The university is also putting forth initiatives for the development of Saudi youth as a whole,” said the rector in a statement. Under this rehabilitation program, an expert team will work in collaboration with a regional prison to help young Saudis get their lives back on track.
The program aims to give under 29-year-olds basic skills that will allow them to better establish themselves in the community after their release from jail. Based at the initial stage at Hair Prison of Riyadh, the project was prompted by the work of NCYS Secretary-General Nizar Al-Salah, who has worked closely with Director-General of Prisons Maj. Gen. Ali Al-Harthy and Assistant Director-General of Prisons for Rehabilitation and Recovery Maj. Gen. Haidar Al-Haidar.
The program will last for six weeks and is run by a group of 12 experts in psychology, sociology, social services and religion. It provides young prisoners with detailed counseling on a variety of issues.
Al-Saleh hopes the recovery program would be expanded to help all prisoners if it proves a success even to the point where it could be a mandatory activity in order to qualify for release.
More broadly, Al-Saleh said the benefits of this project will be felt across Saudi society as the research of the NCYS will translate into other targeted programs benefiting young people in Saudi Arabia.
The initiative aims to work with youths serving prison sentences by teaching them necessary life skills to cope with society in a positive way after their release. The program consists of 12 conferences moderated by a group of experts in psychology, sociology and Shariah.
Experts are assisted by specialists in psychology and social services, who currently work in Hair Prison, providing their firsthand experiences for the class.
Specialists from prisons will also be participating in the lectures as they train and learn how to implement similar programs on their own in the future. In fact, this partnership between the KSU and the Ministry of the Interior aims to practically apply their findings to programs aimed at the youth and is another example of the close cooperation between the KSU and government ministries.

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