First Government Run Halfway House to Strengthen Aftercare Support for Ex Offenders
Singapore, 11 January 2019
The Selarang Halfway House is the first Government-run facility to provide structured aftercare support for selected higher-risk ex-offenders who are emplaced on the Mandatory Aftercare Scheme1 (MAS), a key aftercare initiative of the Singapore Prison Service (SPS).
Located along Upper Changi Road North, the newly operationalised Selarang Halfway House2 is designed to provide a conducive rehabilitative environment to ex-offenders seeking to reintegrate into society, and will complement the existing network of faith-based halfway houses that SPS works closely with. It will house both male and female ex-offenders in separate blocks as part of a supervised step-down approach to facilitate their gradual reintegration into society. They will attend counselling sessions, and are allowed to work or attend vocational training. Suitable supervisees are also given time-off to return home and spend time with their families or participate in community activities.
The operations and programmes at Selarang Halfway House is managed by the YR Industries (YRI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE). The Halfway House will be part of a larger integrated development - the Selarang Park Complex3 - slated to be ready in 2020.
Expanding Aftercare Efforts to Support Offenders’ Successful Reintegration
In his speech during a visit to Selarang Halfway House earlier today, Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, said that SPS is expanding its community-based programmes (CBPs) to strengthen its aftercare efforts and help offenders break the re-offending cycle.
To help ex-offenders to better reintegrate into society, SPS’s expansion of its CBPs incorporates three key strategies. It will (i) enhance community corrections and practices to enable them to be more targeted and effective for each offender; (ii) strengthen throughcare to achieve better end- to-end oversight of each offender’s rehabilitation process; and (iii) leverage family and community support as repairing such relationships and connections is a crucial step towards reintegration in society. Please refer to Annex for more information on SPS’s expansion of aftercare initiatives.
Mr Elijah Teo, Deputy Executive Director of the Selarang Halfway House, YR Industries, said “Many challenges and uncertainties await ex-offenders upon their release. By providing a conducive and rehabilitative environment, the Selarang Halfway House, in close partnership with the SPS, works with residents to address their reintegration needs and facilitate their journey to stay crime-free. Through these efforts, we hope to help residents break away from their cycle of re-offending,”
Mr Chavez Ong, Senior Assistant Director of the Community Rehabilitation and Reintegration Division, Community Corrections Command SPS, said “By looking at the risks and needs of each offender, and evaluating the outcomes of our programmes, SPS can continue to develop evidence- based interventions that provide support to offenders after their release. Such support is necessary and effective in helping them in their rehabilitation and reintegration”.
Official Opening of New Prisons HQ
Following the visit to Selarang Halfway House, Minister Shanmugam graced the official opening ceremony of the new SPS headquarters. The new headquarters, which is located within the Changi Prison Complex, allows better synergy between the staff and line units in SPS due to the closer proximity, and enables greater command and control over the operations of the prisons. For example, it houses a purpose-built Operations Centre, with enhanced capabilities for monitoring of the prison, thereby enabling better sense making for incident management. The SCORE Headquarters is also housed under the same roof, facilitating greater synergy and collaboration between SPS and SCORE.
About the Singapore Prison Service (SPS)
SPS is an agency under the Ministry of Home Affairs. As a key member of the Home Team, SPS operates a secure and exemplary prison system. SPS protects society through the safe custody and rehabilitation of offenders, working closely with its partners in aftercare and prevention. The SPS is committed to realising its Captains of Lives vision. Its team of uniformed officers and civilian staff work together to steer ex-offenders towards becoming responsible citizens with the help of their family and the community.
The Mandatory Aftercare Scheme (MAS) aims to reduce the risks of re-offending for a selected group of inmates by providing enhanced community support, counselling and case management to address their reintegration needs. Upon their release from prison, these ex-offenders are subjected to supervision for up to two years at the halfway house, and progressively placed on home supervision and community reintegration.
Operational from November 2018, the Selarang Halfway House comprises an administrative block and four residential blocks which can accommodate over 570 residents. As of 11 January 2019, there are 138 residents.
The Selarang Park Complex will eventually include a Drug Rehabilitation Centre, a Work Release Centre, and a Community Supervision Centre for suitable offenders emplaced on community-based programmes.
Expansion of Aftercare Initiatives to Support Offenders’ Successful Reintegration
SPS recognises that ex-offenders often face challenges and stressors as they reintegrate back into society. Research has shown that rehabilitation is more effective in a real world setting, as it enables the ex-offender to face and work through his real-life stressors. Recognising this, SPS provides a step- down approach through community-based programmes.
To strengthen aftercare support for ex-offenders and to help them in breaking the cycle of re- offending, SPS is looking into expanding its community-based programmes through various initiatives:
Counselling Sessions Through Video-Conferencing
SPS is exploring the option of conducting video-conferencing sessions with ex-offenders to complement existing modes of communication. This will reduce travelling time and expenses for ex-offenders, and make it easier for them to under such sessions. Development of Mobile Application to Allow Offenders to Take Charge of Their Rehabilitation Journey SPS is exploring the development of a mobile application to allow ex-offenders to take greater ownership of their rehabilitation journey. The application will include e-learning modules and self- help functions such as links to community resources.
Social Skills Training Programme (SSTP)
Since January 2019, all newly-admitted inmates will undergo a Social Skills Training Programme (SSTP) where they are taught skills for effective communication with their loved ones, and are given guidance to reflect on the negative impact of incarceration vis-a-vis familial relationships. The objectives of SSTP are as follows:
- Examine the nature of relationship with significant others (including family)
- Raise awareness of impact of crime and incarceration on relationships
- Equip inmates with skills for effective communication and interaction with significant others (including family)
- Increase inmates’ motivation to change
Enhancement to the Development Framework for Offender Rehabilitation Personnel (DORP)
SPS is collaborating with the Social Service Institute (SSI) to offer volunteers and community professionals a greater suite of training courses. The new initiative with SSI was announced by Mr Amrin Amin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health during his speech at the CARE Network Forum in 2018. The DORP (Development Framework for Offender Rehabilitation Personnel) was first launched in 2014 to improve capacity building through training. In May 2018, DORP was enhanced to include new training modules offered at SSI. This was to better meet the specific training needs of community professionals working with offenders, for example, by providing more extensive networking and knowledge sharing with professionals across various sectors, and more courses in the areas of family therapy and counselling.
With training, volunteers and community professionals can develop more effective and strategic intervention plans to better help offenders and their families.