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Singapore

Rate of convicts re-offending lowest since 2010

The overall recividism rate for the 2016 release cohort was 23.7 per cent, just 0.1 percentage point higher than the 23.6 per cent in 2010, according to Singapore Prison Service’s data.

Rate of convicts re-offending lowest since 2010

Matt (not his real name) speaking to Chief Warder 1 Arulkumar Krishnadas, who was his Reintegration Officer. (Photo: SPS)

SINGAPORE: For Matt (not his real name), who had served a prison sentence for offences including cheating and forgery in 2018, being placed in the Mandatory Aftercare Scheme (MAS) was a lifeline he happily grasped with both hands.

The eldest son of his family shared during a media session on Monday (Feb 25) how he had found it hard to adapt to his parents’ demands of him, and would always search out ways to “excel in the shortest time possible - whether good or bad”.

“I hadn’t spoken to my parents for 10 years,” Matt added.

READ: ‘Doing the right thing has never been easy for me’: A serial convict’s journey

The MAS programme helped him reconcile with his parents following his time in prison. It taught him how to put across his challenges and why he fell into a life of crime to his parents in a way that they understood, he shared.

“Now, instead of demanding, (my parents) have become supportive,” he said.

File photo of Singapore Prison Service's HQ.

In addition, the structured environment that the programme provides allowed Matt to do well in his studies. During his three-year prison term, he managed to complete a second diploma in Hospitality, and is now pursuing a double major in Hospitality Management and Marketing on top of his day job as an executive in the hotel industry.

“The MAS is a very crucial programme for inmates,” Matt said. “It helps them to walk out of the shadow they were in (from being convicted).” He added it helped “condition (the) mind” to re-adjust back into society.

The 33-year-old was one of 734 former offenders placed on the programme that year, and one of the standouts among those who are on the way to completing it. There is a 93 per cent completion rate for that cohort, said the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) ahead of the release of its annual statistics on Tuesday.

The MAS was introduced in 2014 to provide step-down, structured care for inmates with higher risks of re-offending and those who require more support after their release. The pre-release stint is used to help them address things like traits or behaviours that could increase their likelihood of re-offending. After their release, they receive at least 12 months of supervision and support from SPS officers.

More than 1,200 inmates had been placed on the MAS in the past three years, with completion rates of at least 91.6 per cent, it added.

LOWEST RATE SINCE 2010

Programmes such as the MAS have helped kept Singapore’s overall recividism rate low and stable over the past three years, according to SPS. In fact, the rate for the 2016 release cohort was 23.7 per cent - just 0.1 percentage point higher than the low mark of 23.6 per cent for 2010.

Recividism rate is defined as the percentage of local inmates detained, convicted and imprisoned again for a new offence within two years of their release.

The SPS attributed the low recividism rate to the offenders’ personal commitment to change, as well as factors such as employment, accommodation, family and community support. 

As at Dec 31, 2018, there were 12,807 offenders serving their sentences. Of these, 10,809 are in prison, while 1,998 are undergoing community corrections programmes. The majority of inmates admitted last year fell under the drug offences category (1,958), followed by property crimes (1,465) and crimes against person (1,282).

The SPS also revealed figures for Day Reporting Order (DRO) and Short Detention Order (SDO) sentences for the first time. These community-based sentencing provides the courts with alternative options for low-risk offenders that do not result in a criminal record or stigma arising from imprisonment, it said.

READ: More inmates expected at drug rehab centre; more manpower needed for programmes

Offenders sentenced to DRO will undergo risk assessment and individualised case management plans that meet their rehabilitation needs, with each DRO typically ranging from three to 12 months. There were 26 offenders meted this sentence last year, and a 100 per cent completion rate was achieved, SPS said.

As for SDOs, the agency said these are short detention sentences capped at 14 days and there were 84 offenders falling under this category over the past three years. There is a 100 per cent completion rate, it added.

SPS also works closely with the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE) to match offenders with viable job opportunities even before their sentences are completed or are released into the community.

Last year, there were 5,307 employers who signed up with SCORE and 96 per cent of offenders managed to secure a job before their release, it added.

“The work of prisons does not end when an inmate is released,” said Superintendent of Prisons (SUPT) Karen Lee, deputy director of Community Corrections Command (COMC) in the press release.

“Research and experience have shown that rehabilitation is more effective in a real-world setting, as it enables the offender to face and work through his real-life stressors.”

Source: CNA/kk

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