Forum: Stiffer penalties needed to deter young offenders

Inmates in Changi Prison.
Inmates in Changi Prison.PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore may be known to foreigners as a country excessively harsh on crime, but it does not seem to be the case when it comes to young offenders.

A 19-year-old food delivery worker was recently sentenced to two weeks in jail despite causing the death of a 60-year old woman due to his negligence (Youth jailed for causing pedestrian's death, Nov 2).

Stiffer sentences are needed for crimes that involve the death of victims, regardless of the age of the offender.

Currently, the court takes into consideration an offender's age, antecedents, culpability, aggravating and mitigating factors, as well as the interests of the public.

But the argument that an offender is still young should not be used to justify a lighter sentence as it would only encourage them to think they can get away with serious crimes.

Although some may argue that soft approaches like education should be used, I disagree. It is ineffective in rehabilitating some offenders.

If the above-mentioned youth offender was given two years in jail with some strokes of the cane as punishment instead of just two weeks in jail, it would make youths think more carefully before committing any crime.

Such an effect may not be achieved when soft approaches are used, and this is especially so for the young, who are at the age when they do not fear testing boundaries and challenging the system.

Lynn Neo Si Jie