Forum: Society must do its part in ex-offenders' rehab process

Being a former prison officer, I can say confidently that the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) gives equal importance to the safe custody and rehabilitation of prisoners.

Between the two, safe custody of inmates takes precedence over rehabilitation for the simple reason that the prisoners need to be present before rehabilitation can be carried out.

I agree with Mr Frank Singam's views (Basic needs of offenders need to be met during rehabilitation, March 3), and wish to add a few points.

There are two phases of rehabilitation. Phase one is done within the four walls of the prisons by the unsung prison officers, known as "captains of lives".

In prison, inmates go through physical training, drills, academic and religious studies and counselling, and also learn different vocations to fully equip themselves to face the realities of the outside world on their release. In Singapore prisons, inmates spend more time on rehabilitative training than being locked up in their cells.

Phase two of the rehabilitation is in the hands of society, when prisoners return to the real world. The first ones to receive and accept former prisoners are their immediate families, relatives and friends.

Next, they need to be accepted by employers. Employers need to be forgiving and provide jobs for these former prisoners to allow them to take care of themselves and their families, failing which they would return to crime and end up back in prison.

Society cannot remove itself from this obligation. The SPS cannot do this job alone.

Pavithran Vidyadharan

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