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Herstory: Helping Inmates Navigate Through Difficult Challenges
Patience, empathy and sincerity – these qualities have helped CW2 Masjannah Binte Jumadi to change the lives of inmates.

Herstory is a series that highlights the Home Team’s outstanding female officers and their experiences.

Chief Warder (CW) 2 Masjannah Binte Jumadi is a navigator – as an officer with the Singapore Prison Service (SPS), she guides inmates through difficult challenges to lead better lives.

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CW2 Masjannah at Institution A4. PHOTO: SPS

Having joined SPS in 2007, she’s now a Night Duty Team Leader at Changi Prison’s Institution A4. Her duties include patrolling the facility and ensuring that its various systems are functioning as they should. Before taking on this role, she was a Chief Personal Supervisor, managing female reformative trainees and Prison School inmates. 

A Confidante to Those in Need
I was curious about the misconceptions that the public had about the work of Prison officers. It turns out that the most common one is the assumption that inmates are dangerous. “Some inmates simply don’t know how to manage their frustrations or stress,” explained CW2 Masjannah. 

That’s why she tries to build rapport with the inmates under her charge, using the best tool at her disposal: patience. She makes time for those who reach out to her, and her empathy and sincerity has allowed her to help many inmates under her care. “I’ve learned that sometimes inmates just need a safe moment to express themselves,” she said. 

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CW2 Masjannah having a conversation with an inmate. PHOTO: SPS

She recalled a case involving a young inmate, Siti (not her real name). Through many interview sessions, CW2 Masjannah learnt that Siti had a passion for baking. So she arranged for Siti to have an admission interview with Shatec to pursue a Diploma in Pastry and Baking, and even wrote a testimonial on her behalf. 

In the end, Siti managed to secure a spot at Shatec, where she’ll be able to chart a new future for herself. “She knew I meant well and that she’ll have to work hard to achieve her goals,” said CW2 Masjannah. 

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Team effort: CW2 Masjannah with her fellow officers at Institution A4. PHOTO: SPS

An Anchor to Support Their Rehabilitation
According to CW2 Masjannah, the job is not without its challenges, and often requires a delicate juggling act. “We have to wear different hats according to the situation,” she said. “Sometimes we need to instil discipline, while other times we have to guide and teach.” 

I asked CW2 Masjannah what it meant to be a “Captain of Lives”. For her, it was about working closely with inmates so that they can change their lives for the better. “We must have a passion for helping inmates navigate through difficult times, and to find an ‘anchor’ for their lives – the values that will support them in their rehabilitation,” she explained. “It only takes one person to make a positive impact on someone else. As Prison Officers, we can be that person.”


Herstory
Want to learn more about the inspiring women officers in the Home Team? Check out: 
- Herstory: What It Means to Save a Life
- Herstory: Policing Our Coasts with Pride
- Herstory: Finding the Missing Piece of the Puzzle

  1. by Peggy Tan
  2. 07 March 2019
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