Give ex-offenders a second chance

The annual Yellow Ribbon Prison Run will take place on Sept 9.

It has three goals: To create awareness of giving second chances to former convicts, generate acceptance of former convicts in the community, and inspire community action to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of former offenders.

According to the Singapore Prison Service last year, the rate of former convicts going back to jail within two years of being released remained stable at 26.5 per cent.

This can be attributed to inmates securing gainful and stable employment, strong support from their families and the community, as well as their personal resolve to steer clear of crime, the prison service said.

However, in my opinion, reintegrating former convicts remains a complicated and multi-dimensional challenge.

The best rehabilitation regime during imprisonment is useless if former convicts find themselves rejected every time, after they are released and are trying to reintegrate into society.

For example, many people still hold a dim view of former convicts. This is because they are afraid the former convicts will stray from the straight and narrow and go back to their old ways. However, taking such a view is not good for the future growth of Singapore. Former convicts served their time and paid the price for their crimes.

I urge all Singaporeans to help more former convicts by giving them a second chance. It is said that no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. A second chance means a lot to former convicts. They will never have the courage to put their mistakes behind them and work on rebuilding their lives if they do not get the chance to do so.

Cheryll Goh Min Xuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2018, with the headline 'Give ex-offenders a second chance'. Print Edition | Subscribe