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Iraqi Police Lt. Khamis Yaseen leads 23 detainees selected to be released from jail into the Haditha Police District building in Haditha, Iraq, May 27. Iraqi policemen were in charge of the event in Haditha for the first time. Marines from 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 supervised the release. The occasion went without any major problems.

Photo by Cpl. Erik Villagran

Iraqis receive a second lease on life

27 May 2008 | Cpl. Erik Villagran

Former Iraqi detainees are getting another shot to positively contribute to their communities.

The Haditha Iraqi Police District received 23 former detainees May 27 to be released back to their homes as soon as possible as part of the Supervised Release Program.

“It’s a great program for these men,” said IP Maj. Rajab Rowaily, an IP investigator for the National Information and Investigation Agency. “They made their mistakes and have paid their debt to society.”

The program began in January 2008, and groups of detainees have been released twice a month since. The program has acted like a parolee system for the IP.

“Most of the men released won’t do anything wrong again, but we’ll still keep an eye on everyone that is released,” said IP Maj. Munir Hamid Mahdi, the lead investigator for the Haditha IP District. “We’re giving them another chance to prove themselves because we believe they won’t make the same mistakes.”

Detainees who were selected to be released were sent back to the district where they were detained. Their families waited to greet them about a block away.

“The detainees come from Camp Bucca, and we release them,” said Staff Sgt. Moises E. Vilca, 30, the SRP coordinator and intelligence chief for 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5, from Miami. “They’re selected by how long they have been in jail.”

The release of the detainees was controlled by the IP. Marines were on hand to assist the policemen, but adopted more of an overwatch position on the activities.

“This was our first time in charge of the event,” Rajab said. “We learned how to do the job from Coalition forces, and we’ll look at the mistakes we made and make the corrections.”

The IP closed off roads leading into the District Headquarters and made sure security was established. Detainees were off-loaded outside the building and escorted by officers into the structure to begin the next phase of the procedure.

Inside the building, the detainees being released were updated in the Biometrics Automated Toolset, which is an electronic database to help Coalition forces track detainees after they are released.

“The detainees were given an iris scan, and their new information was put into the BAT,” Vilca said. “If they didn’t have a photo in the system, then we took their photo.”

The detainees’ moods at the function were joyful. They seemed relieved that they were on the verge of heading home.

“The men being released had positive attitudes,” Rajab said. “They were happy to leave jail and go back to their normal lives.”

Although some of the people in the community were skeptical about the release program, the policemen chose to remain focused on the way they performed their duties during the occasion.

“I think we made some small mistakes, but all the (policemen) did their job,” Munir said. “I was proud of my officers and how everything turned out.”


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