Published: 15 April 2023
Ms Shie Yong Lee, Commissioner of Prisons,
CARE Network partners,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. A very good afternoon to each and every one of you.
2. I am very honoured to be invited today, to officiate the launch of the Desistor Network.
Importance of the Network
3. The two-year recidivism rate has remained low and stable over the years, with the two-year recidivism rate for the 2020 release cohort at 20.4%.
4. However, the five-year recidivism rate is significantly higher at about 40.0%.
5. This means that for every ten ex-offenders, four return to prison within five years of their release.
6. We want to do better.
7. We want our ex-offenders to remain offence free as long as possible because incarceration not only impacts the individual but their family and their loved ones as well.
8. However, I understand the rehabilitation and reintegration journey is not always a straight path.
9. It is one that can be filled with many setbacks and challenges.
10. And that is where a network with like-minded people can help to really strengthen this whole support regime. And this is where the Desistor Network comes in.
11. The Desistor Network is a new collaborative effort by the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) and like-minded community partners. It aims to help desistors lead a crime-free, drug-free and meaningful life.
12. It is also a symbol of the collective effort by the Government and the community, in reducing the longer-term five-year recidivism rate and promoting long-term desistance.
Key Role of the Network
13. The Desistor Network will play an important role in three specific ways.
14. First, the Network will provide a platform for member agencies to widen their networks and leverage one another’s strengths for greater synergy, collaboration, and collective impact.
15. Second, is in the area of mentorship.
16. The Network will create opportunities for desistors to mentor or receive mentoring from other desistors.
17. And I believe that this is something very powerful.
18. Desistors have walked that difficult journey and are in fact still walking that path.
19. In that way, inmates and ex-offenders will be able to relate to their life experiences, making the desistors a powerful source of inspiration.
20. Through mutual exchange and sharing of life experiences, we believe the desistors can sustain their motivation, strengthen their conviction, and cultivate positive mindsets and attitudes that are key to long-term desistance.
21. SPS will work on more ways for desistors to contribute as mentors, both within prisons, and in the community.
22. SPS is also working on a directory of support or interest groups for desistors to tap on. This is important as desistors may not be fully aware of all the sources of support in the community.
23. Third, is through training.
24. The Network will provide learning opportunities for desistors to better support one another in their desistance journey.
25. SPS will also extend training opportunities that are currently provided to volunteers, to the desistors.
Hope for the Desistor Network
26. When the Network had its soft launch in January this year, we had 13 member organisations on board.
27. Since then, 40 additional organisations have joined the Network.
28. I’m happy to see that today, the Network is 53 organisations strong. Thank you everyone.
29. This is very encouraging, and I would like to thank each one of you for stepping forward to be part of this community.
30. We hope that the Network continues to grow to be a close-knitted community of support.
31. And I also hope that through this Network, member organisations can tap on each other’s strengths and expertise, and develop meaningful and impactful partnerships.
32. We know that preventing reoffending requires an all-hands on deck approach.
33. It is something that the Government cannot do on our own, and we are very happy to have the community joining us in our efforts.
34. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the organising committee, for putting together this wonderful event. I would sincerely like to thank my colleagues from SPS who have been working very hard.
35. A huge thank you to all of you for coming forward to be part of this Network. Without you, we cannot have this Network. Without you, our reach will not be as far, and we would not be able to navigate this journey to help our friends and families.
36. I am confident that the Desistor Network will continue to grow from strength to strength.
37. Thank you.