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Three Factors that have kept Recidivism Rates Low in 2017
Recidivism rates have remained low over recent years. Find out how community-based programmes, differentiated approaches and increased employment opportunities have reduced recidivism among former offenders.

Community-Based Programmes (CBP) and increased employment opportunities have continued to keep recidivism rates low in recent years, according to the Singapore Prison Service (SPS).

Home Team News
 Overall recidivism rates continue to remain low and stable. GRAPHIC: SPS

Latest statistics released on 5 February 2018 show that Singapore’s recidivism rate (the percentage of local inmates detained, convicted or imprisoned again for a new offence within two years) has dipped to 25.9% for the 2015 release cohort, compared to 26.5% for the 2014 release cohort.

As the SPS and its partners work towards a society without re-offending, Home Team News looks at three measures that have kept recidivism rates low.

1. The success of CBPs.

To facilitate their gradual reintegration into the community, suitable inmates are placed on CBPs at the tail-end of their sentences.

“The post-release phase is a crucial period during which ex-offenders experience challenges and pressures upon returning to their families and the community,” said Assistant Commissioner (AC) of Prisons Rockey Francisco Jr, Director, Community Corrections Command. “CBPs provide support and step-down arrangements for inmates, giving them a better chance of staying crime- and drug-free when released.”

Home Team News
 The Helping Hand Halfway House, which offers faith-based rehabilitation programmes. PHOTO: Zavier Low

AC Francisco Jr also noted that rehabilitation is more effective when it occurs within the community. Hence, inmates with strong family support may be placed on the Home Detention Scheme. Offenders that require a more structured environment may be placed in a Halfway House managed by Volunteer Welfare Organisations or placed on Work Release Schemes, where they are able to work during the day and return to prison at night.

For a list of programmes under the SPS, click here.

2. Differentiated programmes make all the difference.

Almost 400 offenders have served time outside prison walls from 2011 to 2016, after being sentenced to a Day Reporting Order (DRO). Instead of being imprisoned, they are required to report weekly to a Day Reporting Centre located at the Prison Link Centre in Geylang Bahru.

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 Orientation briefing day at the Day Reporting Centre. PHOTO: SPS

This is part of the SPS’ effort to use differentiated programmes to reduce re-offending.

Only low-risk, first-time offenders are eligible for DROs. These sentences may range from three to 12 months, and offenders will also undergo risk assessment and individualised case management so that their rehabilitation needs are met.

In a statement, SPS said that CBPs such as the DRO are considered effective tools for reducing recidivism rates as "it is less stigmatising and socially disruptive compared to imprisonment, while still retaining both deterrent and rehabilitative elements”.

Completion rates of offenders under DROs have remained high, hovering at about more than 90%. Those who complete the programme successfully leave without a criminal record.

3. Increased employment opportunities.

In 2017, the number of employers registered with the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises(SCORE) was the highest in recent years. 5,520 employers were registered with them in 2017, compared to 5,093 in 2016 and 4,745 in 2015.

According to John, an ex-offender, being employed helps those like him from re-offending, as it steers them away from bad company who might trigger them into falling back into old vices. John was caught for consuming ecstasy in 2016.

“I was diagnosed with nose cancer and, after treatment, was depressed and started clubbing a lot,” he said. “My friend offered me ecstasy and I tried it.”

Having faced the consequences of drug abuse, John has no plans of returning to it. After completing his sentence in December 2017, he found the resolve to leave his old lifestyle behind, and has secured a job as a cleaner under SCORE’s Job Placement Programme.

Home Team News
Just like "John", almost all inmates referred to SCORE found jobs before their release from prison. PHOTO: SPS

Through this programme, 97% of the inmates referred to SCORE secured jobs prior to their release last year – an increase from 95% in 2016 and 96% in 2015.

© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Muhamad Khair
  2. 08 February 2018
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