Published: 01 June 2023
Ms Shie Yong Lee, Commissioner of Prisons,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. A very good morning to all.
2. I'm so happy to see so many of you at this inaugural Singapore Prison SPS Family Partners Day. Very happy that we all have like-minded people coming together for this.
3. This event aims to rally and bring together like-minded agencies supporting families, especially those impacted by incarceration.
Appreciation of Partners’ Work
4. We know too well that incarceration impacts not only the individual but the family members as well.
5. This is especially so if the individual is the sole breadwinner of the family or the family’s primary caregiver.
6. However, through your dedication and efforts, we are able to strengthen and bring stability to these families.
7. This is also critical for an inmate’s rehabilitation and reintegration journey.
8. Inmates, knowing that their family members are cared for, can better focus on their rehabilitation.
9. More importantly, by supporting the families and children during these challenging times, you have helped to prevent intergenerational offending.
Co-creating with Community Partners
10. Intergenerational offending is a concerning issue.
11. A study by SPS showed that among local offenders with children aged 12 and above, one in five had children who had also committed offences.
12. Another study by MSF and NCSS also found that children exposed to parental criminality are more likely to have contact with the criminal justice system.
13. Early identification and support for families and children impacted by incarceration is critical, as it allows us to mitigate the risks of intergenerational offending.
14. SPS has been playing its part to help address this issue.
15. For example, under the Yellow Ribbon Community Project (YRCP), trained grassroots volunteers visit families of newly admitted inmates to offer a listening ear and link them up with community resources.
16. Last year, close to 3,000 families were supported by the YRCP.
17. SPS also engages agencies specialising in family services to deliver structured family programmes in prison. These help to increase inmates’ knowledge and skills in building stronger relationships with family members.
18. Last year, more than 4,000 inmates underwent these programmes.
19. However, we understand that the issues of reintegration and intergenerational offending are very complex, and cannot be addressed by SPS or any single organisation alone.
20. To address this, we need to adopt a multi-pronged approach and work with multiple agencies.
21. Since 2020, SPS, MSF, Singapore Aftercare Association (SACA) and Family Service Centres have collaborated to provide upstream and proactive support to families and children affected by incarceration.
22. Through this collaboration, SPS and SACA identifies families with needs upon the inmates’ incarceration and refer them to Family Service Centres, who will provide the necessary support to the families.
23. I am happy to inform that over 700 families have been referred for further support under this collaboration.
24. SPS also collaborates widely and closely with various partners to reach out to the families and children of inmates.
25. For example, SPS works with various agencies, such as Centre for Fathering, New Life Stories, Singapore Children’s Society and The Salvation Army, to provide programmes and services for families and children impacted by incarceration.
26. The programmes range from meaningful family bonding activities to counselling and casework, for the families and children.
27. Other agencies like NeuGen also implement initiatives such as bursary awards, sponsored tuition, after school activities, family day and case management for children impacted by incarceration.
28. Close to 500 children and youth benefited from at least one of NeuGen’s programmes and services every year.
29. For inmates and ex-offenders from low-income families, the Yellow Ribbon Fund STAR Bursary also provides financial assistance to support their pursuit of higher education without causing further financial strain on the family.
30. To date, more than 240 beneficiaries have benefitted from the Yellow Ribbon Fund STAR Bursary.
31. The government and community partners have worked tirelessly to help inmates desist from crime and support families impacted by incarceration.
32. We have achieved some great progress and work on this front.
33. Today, Singapore has one of the lowest recidivism rates globally.
34. However, our work is not over.
35. There are still many areas that we need to work on.
36. For example, helping families who have to grapple with their loved ones’ addiction issues or who face family violence problems.
37. Children and youth who are at risk of offending, must also be identified early and supported, so that they can steer away from criminal behaviours.
38. At times we might feel that these are such momentous tasks, but we are not alone.
39. By working together and collaborating, we can achieve what we cannot achieve on our own.
40. I hope that we continue to have candid and in-depth discussions of such issues, and I urge for us to keep working together so that we can further lower the recidivism rate and lower the number of intergenerational offending.
41. On that note, thanks for listening to me, and I wish you a great day.
42. Thank you.