Shanmugam: Prisons to offer video counseling and a mobile app to help with reintegration of former convicts

Photo: Facebook screengrab/ K Shanmugam

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam has said that the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) is looking into using counseling via video as well as a mobile application to facilitate in the reintegration of society of former convicts.

The SPS is adopting a three-part approach for expanding the current community-based programs, which are, “enhancing community corrections and practices, strengthening throughcare, and leveraging family and community support,” Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reports.

Shanmugan said, “To better reintegrate of ex-offenders into society, we will be expanding the community-based programs,” at a tour of the Selarang Halfway House on January 11, Friday.

Enhancing community corrections and practices will involve using data to determine the interventions that each individual would need, as well as using counseling sessions via video-conferencing and other digital platforms.

According to the SPS, the service is looking into video counseling sessions as a complement to current communication modes to lessen traveling expenses and time for former offenders.

The Law and Home Affairs Minister also said, “Digital platforms means we can deliver some video conferencing, so it’s a lot more targeted.”

Concerning strengthening throughcare, the goal is to improve end-to-end oversight of the rehabilitation journey for each former prison inmate. This will mean that the inmates will have the same officer overseeing them both inside and outside of prison, when possible.

The prison systems is encouraging former convicts to have agency in their rehabilitation via a mobile app that will make resources like course notes for self-revision, and a job database to search and apply for jobs accessible to the former offenders.

According to Shanmugam, “They can identify what jobs they can do and that is in addition to the very important help that they receive from SCORE (Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises).”

The third prong of the strategy involves leveraging family and community support in order to help address the negative impact on relationships that the crime and jail sentence had on the former convict.

Trained facilitators will help guide the former inmates and give them the necessary skills in communicating with their families.

Regarding this, Shanmugam said, “Once you are in prison there is a negative impact on relationships and family; how you interact with family. We will try to focus on that.”

SPS is also partnering with the Social Service Institute (SSI) for more training courses “focused on interviewing, family therapy and counseling skills,” CNA reports.

The SPS said, “With training, volunteers and community professionals can develop more effective and strategic intervention plans to better help offenders and their families.”

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