Launch of Desistor Network
Launch of Desistor Network
SINGAPORE, 15 APRIL 2023 - Today, the Singapore Prison Service (SPS), together with community partners who have been supporting ex-offenders in their return to society, officially launched the Desistor Network (DN). The event, held at the Singapore Expo and attended by more than 200 guests from our community partners, was graced by Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of National Development, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim.
The DN is a new initiative to support ex-offenders’ desistance and aid in their successful reintegration into the community after their release. The focus on longer-term desistance is important, as statistics show that four in ten offenders return to prison within five years of release. This is double the number of those who return to prison within two years of release.
To achieve longer-term desistance, SPS recognises that it is important to create an ecosystem of support for ex-offenders. The DN was established to create a strong network where member agencies, working with and supporting desistors (i.e., those who have successfully remained offence-free in the community for a longer period), tap on one another’s strengths, experiences, and resources to expand the range of support activities available to ex-offenders. This will allow more ex-offenders and desistors to journey with one another, within a circle of support from the network.
Through the DN, there will be more avenues for desistors to provide prosocial support to other ex-offenders. The DN also aims to foster more training opportunities among member agencies, more synergies, and more collaborations and partnerships, where member agencies co-create or enhance initiatives for ex-offenders.
Thus far, 53 agencies have signed up to be part of the DN, which is a very encouraging show of support for this effort.
Superintendent of Prisons (SUPT) Ong Choon Yong, who oversees the DN as part of his work at the Rehabilitation and Reintegration Division said, “Ex-offenders sometimes need people they can relate to in order for them to be inspired to change. The DN provides the ideal platform for those who have successfully turned their lives around to engage and motivate those who are just starting out in their desistance journey. No doubt some will stumble, but what is important is that there is a ready pool of peers who are willing to help steady them and get them back on their feet.”
Mr David King Thorairajan, an ex-offender turned SPS volunteer said, “As an ex-offender myself, I have walked in their shoes and I understand the struggles they face. I feel that ex-offenders need a boost to their self-esteem in order to have a better chance at successful rehabilitation and reintegration. I hope to encourage others in need, as I was once in their shoes. The DN is empowering me to give back to the community, just like how I was given help when I was released from prison.”