On Assignment
From Inmate to Trusted Employee
How community partnerships help ex-offenders stay on the right path.

Mr Desmond Koh is an industrious Redmart Ltd employee who started out as a Warehouse Associate in 2015 and is now a Team Supervisor. But most people wouldn’t have guessed that the quiet, hardworking 39-year-old was previously incarcerated for drug-related offences. 

26 Apr 2018 SPS Story Desmond Koh Workplan Seminar
Desmond benefited from training opportunities provided by SCORE, completing Workforce Skills Qualifications courses in industry-relevant skills that helped him to secure his job with Redmart. PHOTO: Mabel Yap

Desmond’s story exemplifies how important community partnerships are in preventing re-offending. His second chance in life came in the form of a job offer from Redmart even before his release. 

The SCORE Difference

It may sound strange that inmates can land jobs from within prison walls, but this was made possible thanks to the efforts of the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE) in strengthening employment support of ex-offenders. 

SCORE appoints Relationship Managers to engage employers and better understand what they need, in order to prepare offenders for job opportunities. Together with in-care support from the Singapore Prison Service (SPS), this helped Desmond secure a job prior to his release. Besides receiving training in logistics, Desmond also learnt soft skills that prepared him to face the working world outside of prison.
26 April 2018 SPS Desmond Workplan Seminar
Mr Jamil Khan, Vice-President of Operations, Redmart (left) and Desmond Koh, Team Supervisor. To date, Redmart has hired around 49 ex-offenders. PHOTO: Mabel Yap

Working with SCORE are industry partners like Redmart, a leading online grocery service that’s committed to showing how community support can prevent re-offending. “We need to get away from judging people,” said Mr Jamil Khan, Vice-President of Operations, Redmart. “Look at Desmond; he’s one of my best guys, and he rose to become a supervisor very quickly. I trust him to make the right decisions because he knows what needs to be done. It’s important for the individual, the employer and SCORE to work together to ensure he remains on the right path.”

Hand in Hand

Job coaches from SCORE not only identify suitable jobs, they also help ex-offenders stay employed. Last year, SCORE extended its job retention support programme from six to 12 months. 

This effort complements the throughcare philosophy of the SPS in leveraging community partnerships to help ex-offenders, who can learn useful skills and are supported by volunteer counsellors during the in-care phase. At the halfway care and aftercare stages, offenders also receive support from the SPS’ community partners such as halfway houses and Community Action for the Rehabilitation of Ex-Offenders (CARE) Network agencies. 

26 Apr 2018 SPS SCORE Workplan Seminar Josephine Teo
At the SPS-SCORE Corporate Advance on 19 April 2018, Home Team officers renewed their commitment to work with community partners and improve the employability of offenders. The Corporate Advance was graced by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Home Affairs and Second Minister for Manpower, and attended by more than 500 staff from SPS and SCORE. PHOTO: Mabel Yap

According to Desmond, it is this support system and his company’s trust that have helped him stay away from drugs. “There may be stress and pressure at work, but life is quite fulfilling for me now,” he said. “I get the feeling that people trust me. My family can depend on me and they’re sure that I won’t go back to my past life.”
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Yuslina Aziz
  2. 26 April 2018
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