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Community support helps reduce reoffending: Prison Service

SUPPORT: Inmates placed on community-based programmes, like at the Lloyd Leas Community Supervision Centre (pictured), can serve the tail-end of their sentences outside prison walls and such schemes have kept recidivism rates low.


    Feb 18, 2016

    Community support helps reduce reoffending: Prison Service

    MORE people who are sent to prison will receive stronger community support, during and after their internment, in a bid to break the cycle of reoffending.

    The use of community-based programmes, in which inmates can serve the tail-end of their jail terms outside prison walls, has helped to keep overall recidivism rates "low and stable", said the Singapore Prison Service (SPS).

    Of the total number of penal inmates put under such programmes, 96.9 per cent successfully completed them last year, according to latest annual prison figures released yesterday.

    This was a slight increase from the previous year's 96.7 per cent.

    In addition, the proportion of inmates from the 2013 cohort who reoffended within two years of their release dipped 1.7 percentage points to 25.9 per cent, from 27.6 per cent in 2012.

    Rehabilitation and reintegration work does not stop at the end of an inmate's jail term but continues into the community, said Rockey Francisco Jr, director of SPS' Community Corrections Command.

    He stressed the importance of community partnerships in ensuring that inmates do not return to their old ways.

    Inmates are assessed before release to check if they are suitable for community-based rehabilitation and reintegration programmes based on their needs and risks.

    This includes criteria such as the nature of their offences, their conduct in prison and the presence of family support.

    Those at lower risk of reoffending and with strong family support may be allowed to serve some of their sentence at home, under the Home Detention Scheme.

    They will have to abide by stipulated curfew hours, which can be monitored through electronic ankle tags.

    Others, who need a more structured environment, may be put on the Halfway House or Work Release schemes.

    For at least six months, those under these schemes will be supervised and counselled by officers from different community and government agencies, such as the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (Sana).

    "We will contact inmates through phone calls or have face-to-face meetings to get updates. And together with the case workers, we will try to tackle any issues they may face," said reintegration officer Mohamed Azhar Khaili.

    Inmates identified to have a higher risk of reoffending may be placed on the Mandatory Aftercare Scheme, which requires them to undergo compulsory supervision for up to two years from their release.

    Figures also showed fewer people going to jail last year.

    There were 10,635 convicted penal admissions in 2015, compared with 11,595 in 2014.

    More employers are being enlisted to offer suitable jobs to inmates before their release.

    The Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (Score) has encouraged employers in food and beverage, hospitality, logistics and manufacturing to hire ex-offenders. Last year, 4,745 employers were registered with Score, a 7 per cent rise from 4,433 in 2014.