Forum: It pays to give people a second chance

Social worker Jeremy Lau (Help those who want to turn lives around, July 24) and the Singapore Association of Social Workers (Rehab as important as punishment, July 31) raised thought-provoking points on the issues of rehabilitation and recidivism.

In his best-selling autobiography Transformed: A Navy Seal's Unlikely Journey From The Throne Of Africa, To The Streets Of The Bronx, To Defying All Odds, actor, writer and film-maker Remi Adeleke relates how a US Navy recruiter once took a chance on him - despite his criminal record - because she believed Mr Adeleke when he told her that he was contrite and wanted to turn his life around.

The recruiter personally accompanied Mr Adeleke to multiple court hearings to speak in favour of him, and he then went on to join the US Navy and complete the intensive elite US Navy Seal training. After his military stint, Mr Adeleke's acting career saw him work with Hollywood director Michael Bay.

Closer to home, similar stories have been highlighted in the media: a former convict-turned-lawyer who started an outreach initiative to help at-risk youth, a former drug pusher who made it to university and does good by mentoring at-risk youth, and many others.

Mr Lau articulated it well that it behoves a compassionate society to give those who are repentant and need help turning their lives around the chance to make things right. In the process, this could perhaps transform them into enlightened and devoted individuals who, grateful that they were given a second chance, will pay it forward and give back abundantly to society.

Woon Wee Min