Published: 04 January 2021
Ms Nadia Ahmad Samdin: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether the Ministry will consider more structured channels to place youth offenders in positive networks as part of aftercare so as to better support reintegration efforts and what steps are taken to guide parents to support their children upon their release from prison.
1. The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) recognises the importance of positive networks in supporting the rehabilitation and reintegration of youth offenders. From the moment the youth offenders are admitted to prison, they are engaged in various programmes that prepare them for their eventual release. Examples include the National Youth Achievement Award (NYAA) programme, Throughcare Volunteer Framework (TVF) and Befriending Programme (BP). Volunteers and staff from various community partners befriend and work with the youth offenders under these programmes. After the youth offenders are released, these volunteers and community partners continue to engage them, to ensure that they continue to have access to positive social and support networks.
2. The NYAA programme was introduced to youth offenders in prison in 2000. It encourages young people to develop self-reliance, perseverance and a sense of responsibility to themselves and to society. The 2020 NYAA programme involved volunteers from the Singapore Adventurers’ Club, Tzu Chi Foundation, Singapore Kindness Movement and Sports Singapore. Participants build friendships with the volunteers during their incarceration, and continue to have access to these positive social networks after release.
3. SPS introduced the TVF in 2019. Under the TVF, SPS brings in various community partners and volunteers to support offenders, including youth offenders. Offenders are matched with religious or secular volunteers, who will support them throughout their incarceration and also after they are released. The TVF currently has seven Social Service Agencies (SSAs) on board, with an estimated 700 volunteers.
4. Youth offenders who are assessed to require social support can also be emplaced on the BP. Under the BP, volunteers provide one-on-one support and guidance to youth offenders via letter writing and face-to-face visits. Such support continues even after their release. In addition, SPS regularly invites ex-offenders who have successfully reformed to share their stories and experiences with youth offenders, to inspire hope and change amongst them.
5. SPS also actively involves the families of youth offenders in their reintegration journey. When in prison, all youth offenders sentenced to Reformative Training (RT) are required to undergo the Family Programme. Non-RT youth offenders will attend the Family Programme if the duration of their incarceration allows. Through the programme, knowledge and skills such as conflict resolution, emotion regulation and self-control techniques are imparted to the offenders and their families. Opportunities are provided for them to maintain ties and build stronger bonds with one another. When out in the community, RT inmates are assigned a Reintegration Officer and a Case Manager, to facilitate their transition from incare to a community setting. The Reintegration Officer is a Prison Officer and the Case Manager is from a Social Service Agency. They work hand in hand with the RT youth offenders, as well as the parents, to develop the youth offenders’ reintegration plan and review their rehabilitation progress.
6. SPS will continue to work with community partners to expand support networks, and strengthen collaborations with schools and employers to provide even more opportunities for youth offenders in their reintegration journey.