Drug fighting 2.0: Life at drug rehabilitation centre
Singapore is reviewing its anti-drug strategies to tackle the rise of younger abusers and the online peddling of narcotics. Insight reports on the work being done on rehabilitating drug users and the Malay communities response to the problem.
Dressed in plain white T-shirts and navy blue shorts, the men sit in a circle facing their counsellors as they discuss ways to improve themselves for the future.
But this is no usual classroom.
The men, all sporting closely cropped hair, are inmates in the drug rehabilitation centre (DRC) within Changi Prison Complex (CPC).
And the class they attend, known as the High on Life programme, teaches them how to create goals to prepare themselves for their release.
More than 700 men are now behind bars in the DRC.
The Sunday Times visited it last Wednesday to observe at first hand the inmates' activities and the facilities available there.
This comes after the spotlight was cast recently on the drug problem in Singapore and the issue was debated at length in Parliament earlier this month.
Rehabilitation is one of the three key components in tackling the drug problem here.
The other two are education and deterrence.
After offenders are arrested, the Central Narcotics Bureau may decide to send some of them to the DRC after conducting its investigations.
DRC inmates are detained for treatment and rehabilitation and will not have a criminal record when they are released.
All of them are detained for drug consumption.
Those caught trafficking and consuming drugs will not be sent to the DRC.
Instead, they will be dealt with in court and sent to the prison general population to serve their sentence if convicted of the offences.
An inmate can be sent to the DRC up to twice in his lifetime.
If he is caught for drug consumption for the third time, he will be dealt with in court and if convicted, will serve Long-Term Imprisonment 1, or LT1, which is reserved for recalcitrant offenders.
Each stint in a DRC can last up to three years.
CPC has two clusters - A and B - with five institutions each.
All male DRC inmates are housed in three of the four housing units within B5.
Each housing unit is further divided into up to three day rooms where inmates' cells are located.
Female DRC inmates have their own facility within Changi Women's Prison.
The Sunday Times went to the men's housing unit 3 and observed the inmates as they played ball games and read newspapers in the spacious indoor yard, which is about the size of two basketball courts.
Officer-in-charge of Housing Unit Deputy Superintendent 2 (DSP2) Derry Teh told The Sunday Times that all DRC inmates have to undergo counselling and classes almost daily to help them kick the habit and pick themselves up after their stint behind bars.
DSP2 Teh said inmates get up at 7.30am, and they prepare for classes after breakfast.
Senior Assistant Director of Correctional Rehabilitation Services Troy Jack Thevathasan said that inmates follow different tracks depending on their risks and needs.
For instance, a first-time inmate attends different classes from a second-time offender.
Inmates have their lunch after classes, before they take part in recreational activities. DRC staff members may also interview the inmates sometime before dinner.
After dinner, the inmates get a short rest period before lights out at 9pm.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 16, 2017, with the headline 'Life at drug Rehab centre'. Print Edition | Subscribe
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