Forum: Basic needs of offenders need to be met during rehabilitation

It is good that the Government has moved from a punishment model to one of rehabilitation for prisoners (Giving prisoners, and their families, a second chance, Feb 28). The question is whether the rest of society has done so.

We need to realise that in rehabilitation, we need to help offenders satisfy their basic needs, such as making a living, address their emotional and psychological burdens and make them feel loved and that they belong.

This is hard to achieve when they are not paid competitive salaries, when employers abuse them by overworking them and underpaying them, when help to overcome their socio-psychological factors is limited, and when their families are not equipped with knowledge and skills to help them overcome their adverse childhood experiences, traumas, psychological disorders or mental illness.

Each offender's case needs to be managed carefully to ensure all these basic needs are met.

Where any one need is not met, it increases the likelihood of relapse.

Rehabilitative agencies or therapists, as well as employers, families and offenders have to work together as a team for prolonged periods - from the time the offender is released till the time he stabilises. And this can take a long time - from six months or longer.

Any time the team senses that an offender is unstable, it has to get together to figure out what the triggers are and attend to them.

More work needs to be done on the micro level.

Frank Singam

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.