Give ex-offenders stronger support to reintegrate into society

Inmates in Changi Prison.
Inmates in Changi Prison.ST PHOTO: PHILIP CHEONG

It is touching to see employers coming forward to offer former offenders employment after release (Helping ex-offenders reintegrate into society, Aug 8).

However, are former offenders paid competitive industry rates, or are they underpaid and therefore taken advantage of?

Are they given training to upgrade their skills, and given a path by which their careers can advance?

Also, are the 12 months that coaches are attached to former offenders to provide support and resolve work-related issues sufficient?

It can take much longer for former inmates to take on more functional responsibility for their lives; particularly if they have been incarcerated for a long time and lack awareness of how society works.

They may have lost the survival skills needed to survive in a workplace, let alone in a family.

I suggest that a multi-partite team be formed to track how well a former inmate is integrating after his release.

The team needs to include the former offender, a family member with whom he resides, the after-care counsellor and the employer; their role is to keep track of the problems and challenges the former offender is facing at home and at work, and to help him cope.

This integrated approach may generate more dividends as the former offender will feel the love, support and encouragement of the key people involved in his reintegration.

And it needs to be extended to two to three years if necessary, as it can take that long on average to help a former offender to get to the maintenance stage of the cycle of change.

Kuharajahsingam Karalasingam

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2019, with the headline 'Give ex-offenders stronger support to reintegrate into society'. Print Edition | Subscribe