SPS YRSG Corporate Advance 2023
SPS-YRSG Corporate Advance 2023: Forward Corrections: Strengthening Partnerships
10 May 2023 - The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) and Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG) showcased key workplan initiatives at the annual SPS-YRSG Corporate Advance today. Over 600 staff, stakeholders, and community partners, including from halfway houses and social service agencies, attended the event at the Suntec Convention Centre.
Themed ‘Forward Corrections: Strengthening Partnerships’, this year’s event highlighted the importance of community partnership to help inmates and ex-offenders achieve long-term desistance after their release from prison. While Singapore’s 2-year recidivism rate is low and stable at about 20%, more can be done to lower the 5-year recidivism rates which is at around 40% today.
Recently Launched Volunteer Case Officer Scheme
In his address, Guest-of-Honour Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Law, spoke about Singapore’s community corrections approach, where about 3000 supervisees benefit from aftercare supervision under SPS and YRSG. SPS has also recently launched a Volunteer Case Officer Scheme, under which SPS will recruit and train volunteers with social service knowledge and background, to provide case management support to supervisees on Community-based Programmes. For a start, the volunteers will work with supervisees with a lower risk of re-offending. With further experience and training, they will progress to also support those with a moderate risk of re-offending. SPS has thus far recruited 50 VCOs and intends to grow this pool of volunteers.
Launch of book titled “Correctional Rehabilitation and Psychological Interventions in Singapore: Practitioners’ Experience in Singapore Prison Service”
At the event, Minister Shanmugam launched a book on the interventions provided to inmates, written from the perspective of Psychologists and Correctional Rehabilitation Specialists from SPS, who work with inmates on their rehabilitation needs as well as conduct research and evaluation studies on the effectiveness of the interventions.
Co-edited by Mr Cheng Xiang Long, Principal Psychologist from SPS’s Psychological Correctional Rehabilitation Division, and Dr Gabriel Ong, previously an SPS Psychologist who has since been posted to the Central Narcotics Bureau, the book shares anecdotal experiences in rehabilitation and working with different groups of offenders. Mr Cheng said, “Correctional rehabilitation is a unique field of work. Correctional Rehabilitation Specialists and Psychologists encounter many challenges in the field. At the same time, we are privileged to be able to listen to the individual stories of offenders and influence them in their journey of change. With this book, we hope that more people will support the work that SPS does.”
The book also traces how the correctional rehabilitation landscape has evolved, from the time when rehabilitation was largely provided only to inmates, to the present when rehabilitation is provided to both inmates and supervisees undergoing community rehabilitation. Dr Ong said, “The application of correctional rehabilitation has changed significantly. Over the years, we have applied science and evidence-based approaches to enhance our correctional practices and policies. As our correctional rehabilitation fundamentals strengthened over time, we developed greater confidence to innovate, which have enabled new opportunities to engage the inmates and supervisees in their change journey.”
Commissioner of Prisons, Ms Shie Yong Lee, said: “SPS has grown our research capabilities in the area of corrections over the last 20 years. Learning from overseas rehabilitation models, we have adapted them to suit Singapore’s context. The book provides insights on what has been helpful in the rehabilitation and reintegration of our inmates from the perspective of our Captains of Lives - our Psychologists, Correctional Rehabilitation Specialists and Prison Officers. Our committed Captains of Lives together with our passionate volunteers and community partners have kept our 2-year recidivism rates low and stable, and Singapore safer. SPS will continue to invest in research and the training of our staff and our volunteers, to deepen their capabilities and minimise the likelihood of re-offending.”
At the exhibition held in conjunction with the event, SPS featured new and enhanced capabilities for community corrections, such as the Electronic Monitoring Services (EMS) 2.0, Prison Automated Screening System (PASS), Self-Help and Rehabilitation E-application (SHARE), as well as the Community Corrections Command (COMC) chatbot. These new capabilities enable SPS to better monitor and assist the supervisees during their aftercare period, together with our community partners. They are also less disruptive to the work and lives of our supervisees, and provide easy access to resources via the supervisees’ mobile phone.
TAP (Train and Place) & Grow, Grow Movement, and YR Sandbox
Following the successful implementation of TAP (Train and Place) & Grow in the Precision Engineering, Media and Logistics sectors, YRSG announced the expansion of the initiative to the Food Services sector. About 700 inmates are expected to benefit from Food & Beverage training in prison, with opportunities to continue training after their release.
Two other initiatives will be introduced to support ex-offenders’ career progression beyond the TAP & Grow sectors. The Grow Movement is a post-release partial training sponsorship scheme for ex-offenders to attain qualifications up to Diploma-level. The YR Sandbox will offer career opportunities to inmates in emerging and fast-growing sectors such as in the Digital economy, Green economy and Built environment.
Executive Director of Reintegration Group, YRSG, Ms Rosanna Yam, said: “We believe that our new initiatives will bolster the gainful employment of ex-offenders, which in turn facilitates their successful reintegration into society. YRSG, together with SPS and community partners, is committed to supporting them in their employment journey.”
 The TAP & Grow initiative was introduced in partnership with like-minded employers, trade associations, training institutions and community partners to set up training academies inside prison. The aim is to enable inmates to undergo industry specific training for subsequent recruitment into the industries. Since 2019, TAP & Grow has been launched in three industries, namely Precision Engineering, Media, and Logistics. A total of 422 inmates have since completed the training programmes.