Published: 19 September 2022
APCCA Rapporteurs Emeritus Professor Neil Morgan and Ms Irene Morgan,
Distinguished guests and delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. A warm welcome to the 2022 Asian and Pacific Conference of Correctional Administrators (APCCA).
2. This is the second time that Singapore is hosting the event. We are honoured and delighted to have you join us today.
3. I would like to give special mention to Rapporteurs Emeritus Professor Neil Morgan and Ms Irene Morgan. Thank you for your continued service and invaluable support to APCCA.
Theme of APCCA 2022
4. The theme for this year’s APCCA is “Forging New Frontiers in Corrections”.
5. In the week ahead, participants can look forward to hearing ideas on how to break new grounds in corrections.
6. The past two years have been challenging for correctional agencies in many jurisdictions. The pandemic has disrupted operations and significantly changed the way we work.
7. We had to fight against the spread of the virus in prisons to keep our inmates, staff, and stakeholders safe.
8. Even with the pandemic, we had to minimise the disruptions to our inmates’ rehabilitation. We had to ensure continuity in the delivery of rehabilitation programmes.
We also had to ensure that inmates were able to continue engagements with their loved ones when physical visits were suspended.
9. But the pandemic has also presented us with opportunities to do things differently.
10. APCCA 2022 is therefore timely, for us to reflect, share and progress as a community.
11. Let me outline three key planks that can guide us on how we go about forging new frontiers in corrections.
Act with Agility
12. First, we need to act with agility.
13. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of being swift and agile.
14. Correctional agencies had to respond quickly to contain the spread of the virus in the dense prison environment. For example, segregation and quarantine facilities had to be set up quickly within prisons to control the rise in infection cases.
15. It was our nimbleness, our willingness to learn and adapt, which allowed us to emerge stronger.
16. We should be ready to review our strategies and processes so we can also respond well when the next pandemic or crisis happens.
17. As we build up our capabilities through reviewing our policies and processes, we must not forget our people. Correctional leaders and staff play an important role in the criminal justice system.
18. Correctional institutions administer prison sentences which serve as punishment and deterrence for crime. Beyond this custodial mission, there is also a noble social mission. Correctional institutions also rehabilitate and reintegrate ex-offenders back to society.
19. Correctional officers are therefore at the heart and spirit of our correctional efforts. We must invest in skills training for our officers. This ensures that they are well-equipped and can remain agile for the correctional work of the future.
Collaborate with the Community
20. I will now talk about the next plank – to collaborate with the community.
21. The reintegration of ex-offenders back into society cannot be done by correctional agencies alone. Rehabilitation efforts have to continue after an inmate’s release.
22. We need support from the community to provide a strong ecosystem of support for both ex-offenders and their families.
23. Let me share a new initiative on how Singapore partners the community to support reintegration.
24. The Employment Preparation Scheme was just introduced by the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) earlier this month. Previously, offenders could only work outside prison during the tail-end of their sentence.
25. The new scheme allows suitable offenders to undergo skills training and education in the community. Offenders will be able to upskill themselves and enhance their employability. In the process, offenders would also be better prepared for reintegration.
26. Aside from the collaboration with local community partners, we should also continue to encourage collaboration and networking at an international level.
27. The international community plays an important role in advancing corrections.
28. Through joint trainings and sharing of knowledge, we collaborate and learn from one another to refine our correctional practices.
29. SPS will be launching a correctional leadership programme for international participants next year. This will help to facilitate learning and sharing of best practices amongst APCCA members. You will hear more about this from Commissioner of Singapore Prisons – Mdm Shie Yong Lee, on the last day of the conference.
30. The third plank I will talk about is – to leverage technology.
31. Technology will transform the way we work.
32. During the pandemic, many correctional agencies had to accelerate the use of technology. For example, using video technology to facilitate virtual visitations between inmates and their loved ones. To minimise the downtime caused by COVID-19, in-person rehabilitation programmes were converted to virtual or pre-recorded formats.
33. Besides the use of technology, the use of data by correctional agencies is also important.
34. We should collect and use data to help us design our rehabilitation programmes. We should also use data to evaluate the effectiveness of the programmes.
35. The sharing of relevant data with community partners allows them to support inmates in need of help during incarceration and post release.
36. I want to appreciate APCCA members too, for starting to share key statistics based on standardised definitions with one another.
37. This also makes it easier for members to then share and learn best practices from each other.
38. To conclude, these three planks are key – agility, collaboration with the community, and use of technology.
39. Together, we can make APCCA an effective platform in supporting the transformation of corrections globally.
40. As joint secretariat with the Hong Kong Correctional Services Department, Singapore remains supportive and committed to APCCA’s cause and its success.
41. I encourage all participants to actively share and exchange knowledge.
42. I wish you all a fruitful conference.
43. Thank you.