Prisons exploring use of digital platforms to help ex-offenders better reintegrate into society: Shanmugam

Prisons exploring use of digital platforms to help ex-offenders better reintegrate into society: Shanmugam

The Selarang Halfway House, which can take in 570 residents, aims to support ex-offenders by helping them find jobs, giving them financial assistance and counselling. Ariel Lim reports.

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) is exploring the use of video counselling and a mobile application to help ex-offenders better reintegrate into society.

This is part of the agency’s three-pronged approach towards expanding its community-based programmes: Enhancing community corrections and practices, strengthening throughcare, and leveraging family and community support.

“To better reintegrate of ex-offenders into society, we will be expanding the community-based programmes,” Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said during a tour of the Selarang Halfway House on Friday (Jan 11).

shanmugam at selarang halfway house
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam during a tour of the Selarang Halfway House on Friday (Jan 11). (Photo: Hanidah Amin)

The first strategy of enhancing community corrections and practices includes the use of data to assess the types of intervention each offender requires and the use of digital platforms like having counselling sessions conducted through video-conferencing.

SPS said it is exploring these video counselling sessions to complement existing modes of communication and reduce travelling time and expenses for ex-offenders.

“Digital platforms means we can deliver some video conferencing, so (it’s) a lot more targeted,” Mr Shanmugam said.

TAKING CHARGE OF THE REHABILITATION JOURNEY

The second strategy of strengthening throughcare aims to provide better end-to-end oversight of each inmate’s rehabilitation journey.

To that end, SPS is working towards assigning the same officer from inside to outside prison whenever possible.

hanmugam exploring selarang halfway house
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam spoke about how to better reintegrate ex-offenders into society at the Selarang Halfway House on Friday (Jan 11). (Photo: Hanidah Amin)

SPS will also encourage ex-offenders to take charge of their own rehabilitation journey through the development of a mobile app that will provide access to resources like course notes for self-revision, and a job database to search and apply for jobs.

“They can identify what jobs they can do and that is in addition to the very important help that they receive from SCORE (Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises),” Mr Shanmugam said.

FOCUSING ON LOVED ONES

The third strategy of leveraging family and community support aims to address the negative impact on relationships from crime and being in jail.

This includes getting trained facilitators to guide all newly admitted offenders and equip them with skills for effective communication with their loved ones.

shanmugam walking tour selarang halfway house
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam during a tour of the Selarang Halfway House on Friday (Jan 11). (Photo: Hanidah Amin)

SPS will also work with the Social Service Institute (SSI) to offer befrienders more training courses focused on interviewing, family therapy and counselling skills.

“Once you are in prison there is a negative impact on relationships and family; how you interact with family,” Mr Shanmugam said. “We will try to focus on that.”

SPS said the new SSI training courses will provide more extensive networking and knowledge sharing with professions across various sectors.

“With training, volunteers and community professionals can develop more effective and strategic intervention plans to better help offenders and their families,” it added.

Source: CNA/aa(rw)

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