Courses to boost skills for rehab of offenders

Mr Ramli Abdullah first took drugs when he was just 12 years old. During his national service, he was held in detention barracks several times because of drug-related offences.

After NS, the former gang member was in and out of prison for close to nine years.

In 2012, he finally decided to turn his life around for his mother.

Today, the 44-year-old is an operations officer at Jamiyah Halfway House, which helps residents rehabilitate and reintegrate in society.

He credited volunteers and staff at the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) and the halfway house for his success.

"The support they had given me, even though they knew that I was an offender, motivated me a lot," he said at the Community Action for the Rehabilitation of Ex-offenders (Care) Network seminar yesterday.

MOTIVATED BY OTHERS' SUPPORT

The support they had given me, even though they knew that I was an offender, motivated me a lot.

'' MR RAMLI ABDULLAH, who credited volunteers and staff at the Singapore Prison Service and the halfway house for his success.

The network brings together more than 100 community partners to provide support in the rehabilitation of ex-offenders.

Recognising the vital role played by volunteers and staff, it has taken steps to broaden their skill sets. They can now attend modules offered by the Social Service Institute, in addition to their current training. These include family therapy and counselling .

"This allows for extensive networking and knowledge sharing between sectors, and is crucial in equipping volunteers and professionals working in the offender rehabilitation sector with more holistic, broad-based skill sets," said Assistant Director (Community Policy) of SPS Jonathan Lin.

For example, they can learn from family care professionals better ways of engaging the families of ex-offenders, who are also a crucial part of rehabilitation, he added.

This is a key change to the Development Framework for Offender Rehabilitation Personnel, a structured training programme launched by SPS in 2014 and run by Singapore After-Care Association.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin said: "Two decades ago, the two-year recidivism rate was over 40 per cent. Today, it is 25.9 per cent for the 2015 release cohort, low compared to many other places."

But he reminded those at the Care Network seminar not to be complacent with their achievement.

"We are not content to just pat ourselves on the back and say well done. There is after all still 26 per cent - or one in four ex-offenders who return to prison within two years of release," he said. "There is much more we can and should do."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2018, with the headline 'Courses to boost skills for rehab of offenders'. Print Edition | Subscribe