Managing offenders: establishing the impact of incarceration and what works in Singapore

Joyce Chan, Douglas BOER

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


– This paper seeks to explore deeper into this subject in search of a new manner that can better aid ex-offenders to reintegrate back into society. The purpose of this paper is to ascertain the factors that influence the reintegration process of ex-offenders in the hope of further reducing reoffending and re-incarceration of offenders. This would eventually translate into a possible reduction in the resultant cost impact to the economy.

– The study is primarily descriptive, it was hoped to find out the philosophical bases of what were was “effective” (e.g. in terms of helping ex-offenders find jobs, the support they received, etc.) in reducing recidivism. The study adopted a qualitative research framework where attention was devoted to understanding the experiences of 12 formerly incarcerated males, all whom have been out of prison for at least five years or longer. Those individuals participating in the study have been incarcerated in the prison of Singapore more than once and are no longer on parole.

– The study indicated seven different factors that influence the success of reintegration. When these seven factors are put together, they increase the probability of success in their reintegration process. Hence, the success of re-entry of offenders after their release from prison is not merely dependent on one or two factors. Therefore, to maximise the rate of success for reintegration of offenders upon their release, a combination of the seven factors reported are essential for the reintegration process.

Research limitations/implications
– A limitation to this research was that both the halfway houses involved in the research process are faith based. Thus, the faith element was emphasised in the interviewing process. Currently in Singapore, there are no halfway houses that operate on a non-faith-based basis. It would be interesting to be able to interview and understand the perspective of individuals who have benefited from a non-faith-based programme and are successful in their reintegration back into the community.

Practical implications
– From the themes emerged from the study, critical factors for reintegration of offenders were identified. When resources are invested to strengthen the factors from the study while working with offenders through their transition from incare to aftercare, it would ultimately decrease the rate of recidivism and reoffending.

Social implications
– Desiring to live a life without crime is often not an easy option for most incarcerated persons after their release as there are several challenges they often face when they are in the community. Some also found themselves unable to adapt to the mainstream culture when released. Problems they faced include difficulty in finding employment, the intricacy of reconnecting back with their families, finding accommodation, etc. Besides these challenges, they have to live with experiences when they were in prison, and for some, the time in prison resulted in them experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (Goff et al., 2007). These issues coupled with guilt and shame often resulted in them going back into crime and sometimes falling into abusing substance. When this happens, the cycle of crime and imprisonment perpetuates and the desire to reduce recidivism will not be achieved and both the individuals and the community they are in will be adversely impacted.

– In Singapore, the Government has always been proactive in reducing recidivism. Various initiatives to introduce new programmes and alternative sentencing options started to assist in rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders. From the interviews of the 12 individuals who had successfully reintegrated back into the community, several themes emerged and factors that influenced reintegration are identified
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-48
Number of pages16
JournalSafer Communities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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