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More can be done to help former inmates: Tharman

Deputy PM Tharman Shanmugaratnam says while more needs to be done to support and help former inmates reintegrate into society, Singapore can become a home where individuals have a real second chance of starting afresh.

SINGAPORE: While more needs to be done to support and help former inmates reintegrate into society, Singapore can become a home where individuals have a real second chance of starting afresh, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Saturday.

He made the point at an appreciation luncheon to honour grassroots volunteers who reach out to the families of offenders.

The luncheon was organised by the Yellow Ribbon Community Project.

Mr Tharman said the programme is important because working with the inmate's family and providing support is a critical part of the inmate's rehabilitation process while he or she is in prison, and when the person eventually completes the prison sentence.

In offering support and linking up families to financial assistance, the programme also ensures the inmate's children are not disadvantaged, especially if the inmate is the sole provider or primary caregiver.

Mr Tharman also commended the work of the Singapore Prison Services in offering its "through-care" approach of helping offenders from the time they enter prison to after they are released.

He also mentioned the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE) for its work of helping more than 2,000 former offenders secure jobs last year, twice the number in 2008.

Mr Tharman added: "Although we may think we understand what the family is going through or what the ex-inmate is going through, in fact we don't -- because we have not actually been there ourselves.

"So start with some humility. Don't judge. Learn what we can and serve with our hearts... to help them face their challenges and overcome them." 

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