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More help for ex-offenders after release from prison

More help is on the way for ex-offenders, as they make their transition after release from prison.

SINGAPORE: More help is on the way for ex-offenders, as they make their transition after release from prison.

The Singapore Prison Service is planning to share inmates' records with relevant parties that provide aftercare help.

It is also boosting training for volunteers and professionals in the area.

Staying out of trouble can be tough especially when there's no support from the community.

Mr Jadyn Ng, an ex-offender, said: "After my first stint in prison, I realise most people form their social circles already. It's more or less established. And I had a thinking that I can't make friends just like that."

The 24-year-old has been in and out of jail for four years since 2007 for drugs-related offences.

He was released in October 2012, and worked briefly for the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE), a statutory board that helps ex-offenders.

Mr Ng is currently pursuing a full-time three-year diploma course at the Building and Construction Academy.

"During my work in SCORE, I made quite a lot of friends in there. We joke about, we go out for lunch, dinner together," he said.

And that's one reason aftercare for ex-offenders is vital in helping them stay out of trouble.

SCORE is part of what's known as the Community Action for the Rehabilitation of Ex-Offenders (CARE) network formed in May 2000.

The network will get a boost with more training for those in the aftercare sector.

It comprises eight member agencies, including ministries, as well as the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association and the Singapore After-Care Association.

Mr Alvin Tan, programme manager from Green Haven, said: "As a social worker myself, we are working with human beings, not machines. Even working with machines, we need to upgrade our systems.

"Needless to say, we need to work with human beings, and every individual is different. So there's no one foolproof answer to work with people. So we need to constantly build up our tools in working with different people."

In January 2014, the Singapore Prison Service rolled out the Development Framework for Offender Rehabilitation Personnel (DORP) training framework for volunteers and professionals.

Since then, more than 300 people have undergone structured training to equip them with skills in aftercare.

The training framework covers areas like offender management and family and community engagement.

There are also avenues for volunteers who wish to help.

Mr Chng Hwee Hong, chairman from Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises, said: "We would encourage them to join a VWO first. I think that would save a lot of time for them to identify which VWOs they want to serve, and also get a taste, get their feet wet, so to say, on counselling, and aftercare services before they go into proper training."

The Prisons is also looking into sharing vital information with aftercare agencies.

The Prisons Case Management System was rolled out in May 2013, allowing case workers within the Prisons to share information with one another.

It includes details like an inmate's behaviour records, as well as the sort of help he has received while he is in prison.

Currently, aftercare agencies will need to write in to the Prisons to get such information.

Plans are under way to make such data available to them to ensure smooth flow of information from prison-care to aftercare. 

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