Thursday 13 February 2014

More ex-inmates reoffend within 2 years of release

Increased community efforts, tougher laws in the pipeline to stem rising figures
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 12 Feb 2014

MORE community involvement and tougher measures are in the pipeline to try to deter former inmates from reoffending.

The challenge was laid out yesterday with 2013 figures showing that 27.4 per cent of inmates released in 2011 committed another offence within two years of leaving jail - up from 23.6 per cent for those freed in 2010.

While these rates have been relatively stable over the years, recidivism among inmates in drug rehabilitation centres continues to rise.

The rate hit 31.1 per cent for the 2011 cohort, a rise of 3.6 percentage points from 2010, according to the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) yesterday.

An SPS spokesman said: "Recidivism rates fluctuate on a yearly basis and are dependent on various factors, such as the willingness of the inmate to change, and community or family support."

Tough amendments were made to the Prisons Act last month to deter former criminals from slipping back into crime. These include amendments to introduce the Conditional Remission System, which targets inmates released on good behaviour. If they commit another crime while in remission, they will incur an additional sentence over and above the one imposed for the new offence.

Another new scheme - the Mandatory Aftercare Scheme - focuses on high-risk offenders by placing them on programmes like halfway-house stays and home supervision. They can also be subjected to curfews and electronic monitoring.

Both amendments are likely to take effect this year.

The SPS is also providing additional vocational training opportunities, which are helping more inmates secure jobs even before their release.

Superintendent of Prisons 1A Abdul Karim Shahul Hameed said the first six months after inmates are released are critical in determining whether they will reoffend. "Do they have a place to stay? A job? Necessary money to survive? Our focus has always been to do more in this area," said Mr Karim, who is also deputy director of the SPS' reintegration and community collaboration services. "And we're really looking at doing more to get community support and more volunteers to come around and help."

That help is coming with community efforts increasing. The number of volunteers involved in the Yellow Ribbon Community Project - a grassroots-led initiative started in 2010 to help inmates and their families - has grown in the past few years.

Volunteer Edna Tan, 52, said former inmates who do not find acceptance on release can be swayed into turning to crime once more.

Ms Olivia Shepherdson, SPS' senior assistant director for community-based interventions services, said inmates often feel guilty about not being there for their family. "Knowing their family is being cared for by community agencies will help them be assured and focus on doing their sentence," she said.


No comments:

Post a Comment