Prison Service sees highest recidivism rate in nine years

The proportion of former convicts returning to prison has been rising, according to latest statistics released by the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) on Friday. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
The proportion of former convicts returning to prison has been rising, according to latest statistics released by the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) on Friday. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - The proportion of former convicts returning to prison has been rising, according to latest statistics released by the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) on Friday.

Figures show that close to three in 10 inmates released in 2012 went back to jail. The rate is the highest in at least nine years.

The SPS provides recidivism figures for a cohort of former inmates two years after they are released. The penal recidivism rate for the 2012 cohort is 27.5 per cent, compared to 27.0 per cent for the 2011 cohort and 23.3 per cent for that in 2010.

The statistics also show that fewer drug abusers released from Drug Rehabilitation Centres (DRC) in 2012 went back to their old habits. The recidivism rate for the 2012 release cohort was 28.3 per cent, down from 31.1 per cent in 2011.

Overall, fewer people were admitted into prison and DRC last year. There were 11,595 convicted penal admissions in 2014, compared to 12,744 such admissions in 2013 and 12,530 in 2012. DRC admissions meanwhile dropped from 1,384 in 2012 and 1,364 in 2013 to 1,139 admissions last year.

The prison service said various measures have been put in place to strengthen incare and aftercare programmes and ensure a holistic, throughcare approach towards rehabilitation.

Director of SPS' rehabilitation and reintegration division, Ms Lee Kwai Sem, said: "SPS takes an evidence-based approach in our rehabilitation programmes, where the needs of ex-offenders in the areas of criminal thinking, employment and family support are targeted. The public's support is critical in their reintegration journey. However, the ex-offender himself must also be motivated to change.

"Ex-offenders who are committed to positive change have access to resources through our community partners in areas such as employment assistance and social support."

Last year, there were 4,433 employers registered with the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises to provide job opportunities for inmates, up from 3,876 employers in 2013 and 3,457 in 2012. A total of 4,245 inmates were also engaged in work programmes in prison last year, up from 4,200 in 2013 and 4,183 in 2012.

amirh@sph.com.sg