Consider allowing inmates conjugal visits, private time with families

More can be done to revamp the visiting hours and days in Singapore's prisons ("Connecting mums in jail with their kids"; Nov 27).

Face-to-face visits are limited to a fixed day of the week, which may not be a weekend day.

Some family members may have difficulty taking leave, or may not want to let their employers know the reason for their leave.

If the visiting restrictions are due to logistic and manpower problems, perhaps the authorities can consider limited slots for weekend visits via appointment.

Another suggestion the Singapore Prison Service could look into is allowing conjugal visits or private time with an inmate's spouse, children and family members. Perhaps, if such visits are made a privilege and granted only to those with good behaviour, it could reduce inmates' tendencies for violence and misconduct.

For security reasons, these visits should be restricted to low- or medium-security prisons, and inmates must have served at least 85 per cent of their sentence.

The visiting spouse and family members must meet certain standards, such as wearing appropriate attire and undergoing a background check and physical search on arrival. They may also be limited to certain areas within the facility. We should consider conjugal visits part of the rehabilitation programme because family is the most important thing when serving a sentence.

Such visits help the inmates maintain close family and spousal relationships. With a strong community, they will be able to get back into their normal lives after being released and are less likely to commit more crime.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 11, 2016, with the headline 'Consider allowing inmates conjugal visits, private time with families'. Print Edition | Subscribe