Updated: 02/12/2014 02:10

Re-offending rate up

Re-offending rate up

The number of ex-inmates who re-committed offences after being released from jail went up slightly last year. 

27.4 per cent of them commit a crime within two years of completing reformative training or jail. 

This is higher than 23.6 per cent reported for 2010. 

While the statistics from the Singapore Prison Service have shown a slight increase in the number of re-offenders. 

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifl says the situation is stable. 

"The reason why it fluctuates is also largely because the kind of cohort that gets released changes over the years. There will be a group of those who are first-timers, very low recidivism rate, or sometimes multiple-timers who come out and have high recidivism rate."

Mr Masagos adds that this is "a good figure to look at", when compared to other countries with recidivism rates in the range of 35 to 40 per cent. 

To help push the figures down further, Deputy Director for Reintegration and Community Collaboration Services at the Singapore Prison Service, Superintendent Abdul Karim, says external support is critical - especially within the first six months of the inmates' release. 

"We all know prisons alone can never accomplish the reintegration of the offenders. We need community support. Prior to their release, they need to find a job, proper accomodation, finances, our priority is to ensure that they have aftercare support. regardless of the aftercare support we want to make sure they get the necessary support to help them integrate."

And this is where community support comes into play. 

Yellow Ribbon champion and inmate befriender Edna Tan says volunteers in the ex-offenders' immediate community can do a lot to help them re-integrate. 

"Some of the inmates do not have regular visits by families, so they feel way off. They are not sure if when they are released the families will be able to accept them. So the befrienders come in. They are the ones who will give them support in terms of advice, in terms of referring them to certain agencies and sometimes to bring them to even meet their own friends."

In 2013, close to 1,600 families of inmates were reached out to, almost doubled the year before. 

Academic and vocational training is also offered to inmates to increase their employability. 

Last year, 400 more employers registered themselves with the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises, or SCORE, to offer jobs to ex-convicts - bringing the total to almost 3,900 businesses which are doing so. 

-By Fann Sim

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