Strong support key to helping older ex-inmates

It is worrying that more people aged 60 and above are being held for penal offences (Helping older ex-inmates assimilate into society; Sept 10).

Prison statistics show that the number of inmates in this age group has more than doubled, from 243 in 2010 to about 650 last year.

This sorry state of affairs underscores an urgent need for a better social support system.

It is a fact that older former convicts undergo a period of transition marked by physiological, psychological and social changes.

Besides carrying the social stigma of having served time, they also have to struggle with job and health issues, among other things.

Hence, there should be more initiatives for them, including strong family support, community partnerships and enlightened employers who offer them a second chance.

This multi-pronged approach to the process of reintegrating them to society will help older former offenders develop a sense of confidence, security and, above all, respect.

Non-profit institutions such as the Industrial and Services Co-operative Society and Pertapis have played an instrumental role in rehabilitating former offenders and easing them back into society and normal life.

Aftercare support groups are important, and social workers can organise periodic fellowship sessions where former inmates reflect on how they have adapted to their new environment and share the challenges that they need to cope with as they steer themselves to the correct path.

Being gainfully employed and engaged in healthy social circles leaves them no opportunity to revert to their old days of darkness.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2017, with the headline 'Strong support key to helping older ex-inmates'. Print Edition | Subscribe