MHA, MinLaw publish guide on sentencing to educate public on criminal justice system

The guide includes a general overview of the criminal justice system, including its aims, what elements it comprises and the basic processes involved.
The guide includes a general overview of the criminal justice system, including its aims, what elements it comprises and the basic processes involved.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The ministries of Home Affairs and Law (MHA and MinLaw) on Friday (March 5) published a guide on how sentencing works in Singapore's criminal justice system, in order to educate the public about the process.

The guide addresses questions such as the factors that the courts take into account in sentencing, making clear that educational qualifications are not automatically equated with an offender's propensity for reform, for example.

Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam announced the publication of the guide in Parliament on Friday as part of the Government's review on the sentencing framework for hurt and sexual offences.

It was prepared with input from the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) and the Law Society, and will be uploaded on to the MHA, MinLaw and AGC websites, the minister said.

"In respect of sexual and hurt offences, it should be clear: An offender will not receive a lighter sentence simply because he has higher educational qualifications or has better prospects in life," said Mr Shanmugam.

The guide includes a general overview of the criminal justice system, including its aims, what elements it comprises and the basic processes involved.

It sets out the principles that the courts take into account in determining the appropriate sentence: deterrence, rehabilitation, proportionate punishment and prevention.

Different types of sentences, from probation and fines to imprisonment and the death penalty, are also explained.

The guide goes into detail on community-based sentences, which focus on rehabilitation and deterrence and do not result in a permanent criminal record if completed successfully.

It also explains the differences between the sentencing of adults and of young offenders aged 21 and below.