Press Releases

Some Amendments to the Prisons Act to Take Effect from 2 September 2022

Published: 01 September 2022

1.   Amendments to the Prisons Act were passed in Parliament on 11 January 2022 to:

(a)   Enhance community corrections; and
(b)   Facilitate the Singapore Prison Service (SPS)’s operations and administration.

2.   These amendments seek to improve inmates‘ rehabilitation and reintegration outcomes, and enable SPS to carry out its functions more effectively. 

3.   They will come into effect in two phases, with the first phase taking effect from 2 September 2022.

First Phase: Provisions Taking Effect From 2 September 2022

Enhancing Community Corrections

4.   The community corrections-related provisions that will take effect from 2 September 2022 include:

(a)   A new scheme called the Employment Preparation Scheme (EmPS) will replace the Work Release Scheme (WRS). Inmates under the EmPS will be allowed to undergo skills training and education in addition to working in the community. Skills training and education will enhance the inmates’ employability.

(b)   Allowing SPS to notify persons emplaced on community-based programmes (CBP) such as the Mandatory Aftercare Scheme, Home Detention Scheme, EmPS, and the External Placement Scheme, of changes to the conditions of the respective scheme through alternative means. Previously, this could only be done through written notifications. Alternative means of notifying supervisees include using SMS and messaging applications.

(c)   Providing SPS officers with powers to obtain documents or information from third parties in the course of making inquiries into breaches of CBP conditions. This will strengthen SPS’s investigation effectiveness.

Facilitating SPS’s Operations and Administration

5.    The following provisions to facilitate SPS’s operations and administration will also take effect from 2 September 2022:

(a)   Allowing the Commissioner of Prisons (C/SPS) to defer the making of a remission order by up to 21 days beyond the two-thirds mark of the sentence, to carry out any outstanding Court-ordered punishment. 
•   If an inmate has displayed good conduct and behaviour in prison, he/she can be released from imprisonment after he/she has served two-thirds of his/her sentence. 

•   Before amendments to the Prisons Act were made, the release at the two-thirds mark can be pushed back by up to 14 days to carry out a Court-imposed punishment, like caning. In most cases, this is sufficient. However, in some situations, this is not enough such as when an imprisonment sentence with caning is backdated to take into account the remand period, and given that no caning can be carried out during the 14-day grace period for the filing of a Notice of Appeal upon the handing down of the sentence.[1] The Prisons Act is amended to allow C/SPS to defer the inmate’s release by up to 21 days, instead of only 14 days. This will give SPS sufficient time to carry out the punishment ordered by the Court. SPS will release the inmate as soon as the punishment has been carried out.

•   For avoidance of doubt, this extension will be within the period of the inmate’s sentence. C/SPS does not have the power to defer an inmate’s release beyond the court-imposed imprisonment sentence.

(b)   Make explicit the protection for prison officers and auxiliary police officers employed by SPS from liability for acts and omissions done in “good faith and with reasonable care”, in the course of carrying out their lawful duties. Officers are not exempt from the ordinary process of law if they are criminally negligent or have abused their powers.

Other Amendments Taking Effect at Later Date

6.   The remaining amendments to the Prisons Act will take effect at a later date. More details will be announced separately. Please refer to Annex for more information on the amendments to the Prisons Act. 


•   Infographic on the Prisons (Amendment) Act (JPG, 363KB)

•   Press release on First Reading of the Prisons (Amendment) Bill on 1 November 2021

•   Second Reading speech on the Prisons (Amendment) Bill on 11 January 2022

•   Wrap-up speech on the Prisons (Amendment) Bill on 11 January 2022

[1] For example, a person is given an imprisonment term of three months, and strokes of the cane. If the person displays good conduct and behaviour in prison, the person will be released after serving two-thirds of the sentence, i.e. after serving two months of imprisonment. 

There could be situations where there is insufficient time for the caning to be carried out. The Court may backdate the start of the imprisonment sentence to when he was remanded, i.e. before his sentence was imposed in Court. For example, the person could already have been remanded for two months or just slightly more, when the Court handed down the sentence, and the Court orders that this remand period be taken into account in the sentence. After taking into account the 14-day grace period (the caning can only be carried out after 14 days from the sentencing date, as there is a 14-day grace period given in law for filing of one’s intent to appeal against the sentence), there is no time left to carry out the caning, since before the amendments, C/SPS can only defer the remission by up to 14 days beyond two months.  

After the amendments, C/SPS can delay the release by up to 21 days. In a case like this, it will allow the caning to be carried out. The person will be released as soon the punishment has been meted out, and within his three months’ sentence.