Almost 10% rise in inmates securing jobs before prison release

February 18, 20167:10 am462 views

More inmates are securing jobs before their release from prison, as more employers register themselves to give ex-offenders a second chance with the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE).

A total of 2,042 inmates managed to secure jobs in 2015, up 9.5 per cent from 1,865 in 2014. Over the same two years, the number of employers registered with SCORE went up by 7 per cent from 4,433 to 4,745, numbers released on Wednesday (Feb 17) showed.

Last year, SCORE signed a memorandum with the Restaurant Association of Singapore to get ex-offenders work in the food and beverage industry.

Finding stable employment is important because it lowers the risk of ex-offenders lapsing again into criminal activities. Mr Rockey Francisco Jr, director of the Singapore Prison Service’s (SPS) Community Corrections Command unit, said at a media briefing: “I think community support is essential. Re-integration work and rehabilitation work don’t just stop at the end of (an inmate’s) sentence. It continues into the community.”

There has also been an overall increase in the job-retention rate for ex-offenders that SCORE helps out. The three-month job-retention rate was 85 per cent in 2014 compared with 80 per cent in 2013, while the six-month retention rate increased from 59 per cent to 67 per cent for the same time period. SCORE said it does not monitor ex-offenders after six months, but they can approach its Employment Assistance Unit for help if needed.

Mr Mohammad Fahmi Ahmad Abu Bakar, a Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association counsellor, also noted there is still a sense of stigma that may occur at the workplace. “While we are seeing a gradual shift in perception of ex-offenders where more companies are more open to hiring them, residual pockets of stigma still remain on the ground. For example, (there may be) colleagues who still hold a dim view of ex-offenders,” he said.

Meanwhile, the overall recidivism rate — a measurement of relapse into criminal behaviour — for the cohort released in 2013 was 25.9 per cent, an improvement from the 27.4 per cent seen for the cohort released in 2011.

But among drug offenders, more returned to their old habits after their release from the Drug Rehabilitation Centre (DRC). The recidivism rate for the cohort released in 2013 was 31.9 per cent, compared with 28.3 per cent for the 2012 cohort and 31.1 per cent for the 2011 cohort.

In response to media queries, the SPS said: “The recidivism rate fluctuates, and it depends on many factors such as the willingness of the inmates to change, employment, and presence of positive family and community support.”

It also said it will increase its use of community-based rehabilitation and reintegration programmes to help inmates break the cycle of re-offending. This includes schemes such as the Home Detention Scheme, which is for inmates deemed to be low-risk and at the tail-end of their prison sentence, and have strong family support. Under the programme, inmates are fitted with an electronic monitoring tag and will have to follow strict curfews. Officers will also conduct surprise home visits to ensure that they do not get into trouble, or become subject to negative peer influence.

The completion rate for penal inmates under the SPS’ community-based programmes remains stable at 96.9 per cent last year, on par with 96.7 per cent in 2014. However, the completion rate for DRC inmates fell to 81.7 per cent from 88.2 per cent in 2014.

There were 10,635 convicted penal admissions, down 8 per cent from the previous year. Most of the convictions involved drug offences and property crimes.

However, the DRC admissions rose by 6.5 per cent from 1,139 in 2014 to 1,213 last year. As of the end of last year, there were 12,394 inmates in jail, comprising convicted penal inmates, those in remand, DRC inmates and criminal law detainees.


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