The reintegration model from prison to the community : ten essential factors for successful re-entry in Singapore

  • Joyce Pei See Chan

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The fundamental work with any offender population is always in the area of reducing their risk of reoffending. Singapore has been actively pioneering various initiatives, and results showed a significant decrease in the recidivism rate in the first few years from 1998 to 2004. Since then, this rate has plateaued. The review of literature on contextual issues in Singapore indicates that, while the recidivism rate has not improved since 2004,the cost of incarceration, rehabilitation and reintegration incurred by the government continued to rise steadily. The social and financial impact on the nation is significant. Repeat offenders make up more than 80% of Singapore’s inmate population, and around 80% of these repeat offenders were rearrested for drug offences or have drug problems. It is therefore crucial to focus on drug offenders, especially males, since male inmates make up more than 90% of the prison population in Singapore. Research on the problem would enable the formulation of corresponding strategies to develop a more targeted approach to address gaps in existing correctional rehabilitation programs. This study aims to explore solutions to the problem of recidivism, by exploring factors that enable ex-offenders to stay out of jail. The research identified 10 critical factors that influence the reintegration of male drug ex-offenders. These 10 critical factors are access to employment, age influencing decision to change, consistent support, environment, having a vision and purpose in life, meeting basic needs, personal choice to change, spirituality and faith, staying committed to change and remaining positive, and step-down care. The research also found that success in re-entry to the community was based on the integration of these factors. This led to the development of a new Reintegration Model, which serves to strengthen rehabilitation efforts of releasees transiting from prison to the community. The research adopted a qualitative approach and focused on male drug ex-offenders who were incarcerated more than once and had undergone rehabilitation programs in halfway houses. A total of 25 volunteering participants were selected for in-depth interviews. They had all successfully reintegrated in the community, and remained crime-free for five years or more after their last incarceration. They shared their experiences of their past criminal lifestyle, and the process that led them to desist from crime to eventually reintegrate into the community. The 10 factors identified as critical for reintegration were referred to by all participants interviewed. The study also found that it is the integration of these factors that enabled successful reintegration of ex-offenders. This was summarised in a new Reintegration Model for managing releasees transiting from prison to the community in Singapore. These factors were reviewed and covered in various overseas criminology texts, and included in models such as the Risk-Need-Responsivity Model (RNR) developed by Andrews and Bonta (1994),the Good Life Model (GLM) developed by Tony Ward (2002),and Theories of Desistance developed by Maruna (2001) and McNeill and Weaver (2010). This study adds to existing research by proposing a blending of 10 factors to effectively serve the rehabilitation needs of offenders in Singapore. Because the Reintegration Model refers to factors accepted internationally, the model could be applicable in other countries. The study is also unique to Singapore. No other study has explored a similar group of participants to understand why they committed crimes after their prior convictions, and how they finally re-enter society successfully after their last prison sentence in Singapore. Findings from this study will inform government and community practices for reducing recidivism. Existing correctional rehabilitation management approaches can also be expanded using the model developed. This would eventually result in cost savings in future expenditure on the rehabilitation of offenders in Singapore.
    Date of Award2018
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDouglas Boer (Supervisor), Gregor Urbas (Supervisor) & Joelle Vandermensbrugghe (Supervisor)

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