More inmates secure jobs before release; employers show greater support in hiring them: Singapore Prison Service

A Prison Officer looking on as inmates engage in interactive indoor recreational activities at the Changi Prison Complex.
A Prison Officer looking on as inmates engage in interactive indoor recreational activities at the Changi Prison Complex.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More inmates are securing jobs across various sectors even before their release, as employers show greater interest and support in hiring ex-offenders.

Efforts to rehabilitate inmates through enhancing their employability have helped to ensure that they do not go back to their old ways, said the Singapore Prison Service (SPS).

Latest prison annual figures released on Tuesday showed that out of the 2,061 inmates referred to the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (Score), 96 per cent were able to secure jobs while still serving their sentences.

The percentage - which was up slightly from 95 per cent in the previous year and the same as 2014 - has "remained consistently high", said SPS.

SPS added that many inmates go through skills training aligned to the national Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) framework to prepare them for the workforce, while potential employers conduct job interviews in prison and make hiring decisions on the spot.

Some 350 new employers also started working with Score last year, a 7.3 per cent increase from the 4,745 in 2015. These companies cut across sectors such as food and beverages, logistics and manufacturing.

The increase in the number of employers willing to work with Score, showed the community's increased acceptance of inmates and ex-offenders in the workplace, said SPS.

Meanwhile, the overall recidivism rates remained "low and stable".

The proportion of inmates from the 2014 cohort who re-offended within two years of their release stood at 26.5 per cent, as compared to 25.9 per cent in 2013 and 27.6 per cent in 2012.

Said Score's senior assistant director of retention support Arputhasamy Nathan: "When we engage employers, we are very clear that we want them to come on board not just to provide the manpower needs. We are looking at suitable job vacancies, with employers handholding them, from stabilising their work to perfomance management and career progression."

"If the ex-offender stays on the job, he can become more responsible towards himself and others and that helps to lower recidivism."

Figures also showed a continued dip in the number of people admitted into prison last year. There were 10,211 convicted penal admissions in 2016, compared to 10,635 admissions in 2015 and 11,595 in 2014.

As at Dec 31 last year, the total penal population stood at 9,502, with female inmates making up about 9.3 per cent. The figure was 9,602 in 2015 and 9,754 in 2014.