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Three Things You Should Know About SPS’ Annual Statistics Release 2019
Safe and secure custody, rehabilitation and reintegration – how SPS changed the lives of ex-offenders for the better in 2019.

Home Team News SPS Stats 2020 Cover
GRAPHICS: Home Team News

The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) is committed to the safe and secure custody of offenders, and their rehabilitation. Here are three things you should know about SPS’ vital work in 2019. 

1. Enhanced rehabilitation for drug abusers 
With the passing of the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Act in January 2019, rehabilitation for drug abusers have been enhanced. Rather than being sentenced to long-term imprisonment, repeat drug abusers without concurrent offences are now channelled to rehabilitation pathways in the Drug Rehabilitation Centre (DRC). This raised DRC admissions from 1,257 inmates to 2,080 last year, while penal admissions saw a decrease from 991 to 459. 

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PHOTOS: Soo Jun Xiang

Superintendent of Institution B5 – a DRC in the Changi Prison Complex – SUPT 1A Loh Hong Wai welcomed the changes brought about by the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Act. “We haven’t softened our stance against drugs,” he explained, “but through intensive programmes in the DRC, inmates become better able to engage with and express their feelings, which is something that many of them struggle with on their road to rehabilitation.”

2. The recidivism rate continues to remain low
In 2019, Singapore’s recidivism rate remained one of the lowest in the world at 24%. This is maintained through a sustained focus on inmate rehabilitation, particularly through Community Corrections, which saw 2,415 offenders continue their rehabilitation in the community. 

Two new rehabilitation and reintegration programmes were also introduced in 2019. Through the Social Skills Training Programme, inmates learn to resolve conflicts and regulate their emotions, while the Family Reintegration Programme supports inmates and their families in their eventual reconciliation.

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Among the officers supporting inmates as they undergo such programmes is Rehabilitation Officer 2 Mohamed Faizal Bin Abdul Hamid, who has served 12 years with SPS. “When I see ex-offenders outside holding down jobs, being happy with their families – that’s when we feel we’ve really made a difference,” he shared. 

The impact on inmates is equally profound. According to inmate and divorced father of two Rahman (not his real name), it was his inability to manage his emotions that led him to abuse heroin and “Ice.” Now serving his third DRC sentence, Rahman explained that the turning point came for him when he went to visit his father in the hospital after the elderly man had undergone surgery. 

Seeing his father lying in bed, Rahman realised the need to do right by his family. “They deserve a chance to see me change,” he concluded. 
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Through various rehabilitation programmes and group counselling sessions, Rahman began to open up and change. With one year of his sentence left, he's now a classroom steward at the DRC.

Even sharing his experiences was a big milestone for Rahman. “In the past, I couldn’t even speak to people about myself,” he admitted. “But now, I want to be a better person, for my family and my future.”

3. Skills training and employment options for ex-offenders have been enhanced
In 2019, SPS continued to enhance employment-training programmes for ex-offenders. By undergoing WSQ-certified courses, ex-offenders can gain industry-specific skills and improve their job prospects. 

Playing a vital part in this effort are employers. In 2019, SCORE-registered employers rose to 5,603. With SCORE’s assistance and the support of a dedicated Job Coach for up to 12 months after their release, 96% of inmates secured a job prior to their release in 2019.

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In 2019, SPS continued to develop Community-Based Programmes that allow inmates to serve part of their sentence in the community (for example, at a Halfway House), achieving an aftercare rate of 91.4%. Befrienders such as May Hui from the Singapore After-Care Association, are important in helping inmates break away from their past. 

Many of the ex-offenders May has talked to lack family support, making the work of Befrienders such as her especially valuable. “I try to have regular conversations with them,” she explained, “and meet them where they are, as normal people. Despite starting out as strangers, they’ll eventually come to trust you.”  

May recalled helping one ex-offender who checked in with her for nine sessions. “Before, he’d never held a job for more than three months,” she said. “But now, he’s been employed for more than two years, and is married with children. When you’re working with people who’ve had many ‘downs’ in their lives, they might distrust those around them. For them to feel accepted, it’s a very heart-warming thing.”

Read SPS’ Annual Statistics Release 2019.
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Soo Jun Xiang
  2. 09 March 2020
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