Tight network of care vital to ex-offenders' reintegration

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

As a long-time partner of the Singapore Prison Service (SPS), Prison Fellowship Singapore (PFS) firmly believes that rehabilitation is multi-faceted, and requires the close collaboration of different community players (Focus on rehabilitation of inmates the right move, Aug 29).

It is great that rehabilitation starts earlier in prison now. Ex-offenders upon their release, known to PFS, are personally received at the prison gate by PFS staff and volunteers.

The personal welcome directs the ex-offenders to channels where they can seek various socio-economic assistance, and allows them to maintain the relationship with the PFS staff and volunteers they befriended while in prison.

After their release, sustainable contact with an accepting community trained and equipped to walk the journey with them towards successful integration into our society is critical to their rehabilitation.

Yong Wei was in and out of prison six times, in eight years, for loan shark activities and drug abuse.

During his incarceration, he attended chapel services conducted by PFS and learnt about the Angel Tree Hamper project, which hand-delivers gift hampers together with handwritten cards from inmates to their family members during the Christmas season.

Thereafter, the PFS Family Care team engaged his wife and their eight-year-old child, who participated in Care Club - a weekly children's educational programme anchored by PFS volunteers.

Now, Yong Wei works as a salesman. The entire family has been warmly welcomed by a church.

The church is a key partner in our effort to envelope ex-offenders into a tightly knit network of care.

Indeed, it takes a village to walk with a person, from the time of conviction, to the serving of sentence, till his eventual release and reassimilation into society.

William Wan (Dr)

Chairman, Prison Fellowship Singapore