The Minister of State for Home Affairs (Assoc Prof Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim) (for the Minister for Home Affairs) in response to parliamentary question by Ms Nadia Ahmad Samdin to the Minister for Home Affairs on what support do parents, spouses and children of incarcerated members of society have to access on a consistent basis (i) the inmate during his time in prison and (ii) as part of his reintegration upon release from prison.
Mr Speaker, the period of incarceration is a difficult time, not only for the offenders, but also their families. Families may encounter financial difficulties and challenges in care-giving. These issues may affect the offenders’ focus on rehabilitation. To address these issues, the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) collaborates with community partners through various programmes to assist the families.
Newly admitted offenders are encouraged to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Community Project or YRCP in short. This is a grassroots-led programme where trained grassroots volunteers visit the offenders’ families, befriend them and link them up with existing community resources, such as Social Service Offices and Family Service Centres, if required. Booster packs containing grocery vouchers are distributed annually to help the families with day-to-day expenses. School-going children receive vouchers that they can use to purchase school items. To maintain family ties, YRCP arranges for the children to receive handwritten letters from their incarcerated parent.
The YRCP has grown from eight participating grassroots divisions in 2010 to 89 divisions in 2020. The number of trained YRCP grassroots volunteers has likewise multiplied, from 74 in 2010 to more than 1,200 in 2020. These volunteers have, to date, reached out to more than 15,000 families.
Throughout incarceration, offenders are encouraged to share their concerns on family issues with SPS officers. Where necessary, referrals will be made to SPS’s Family Resource Centres or FRCs in short, which will follow up on the needs of the offenders and their families. As the FRCs are conveniently located at the Changi Prison Link Centre, families can also walk in to these FRCs during visits to their incarcerated relative. If an offender’s family is assessed to have complex needs, a referral will be made by the FRC to the Family Service Centre (FSC) within the vicinity of the offender’s home for further assistance.
As part of their rehabilitation, offenders participate in programmes which help to increase their knowledge, skills and confidence in maintaining ties and building stronger relationships with their family members. Offenders and their children can also attend facilitated bonding sessions organised by SPS and its community partners. In addition, offenders can sign up for programmes and services targeted at assisting their families and/or children. These are offered by SPS’ community partners, which include the Singapore Aftercare Association (SACA), Industrial & Services Co-Operative Society Ltd (ISCOS) and Yellow Ribbon Fund.
Towards the tail end of an offender’s incarceration, he may be assigned with an aftercare case manager. The case manager will provide support after the offender is released based on his assessed reintegration needs, which includes linking up the offender and his family with relevant agencies, such as FSCs and partners from the Community Action for the Rehabilitation of Ex-offenders Network, in short, CARE Network. This includes organisations like SACA, ISCOS and Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (SANA). Examples of assistance rendered include interim financial assistance for ex-offenders and their families, access to support group and befriending services, as well as education support for ex-offenders and their children.
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