Repeat drug abusers to undergo more supervision

SINGAPORE - An enhanced supervisory programme for repeat drug offenders, who are deemed to be at high risk, will be implemented on Nov 1, to deter them from returning to drugs after their release.

In addition to urine tests for the first two years, they will be required to undergo a programme of intensive compulsory counselling.

They will also be placed under strict curfew hours and electronic monitoring. Prison counsellors and caseworkers will also conduct follow-up sessions, to refer offenders for employment, shelter and skills training.

About 500 offenders each year are expected to undergo enhanced supervision next year and in 2014.

This was announced yesterday by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs, at the inaugural Prisons Volunteer Awards Ceremony held at The Grassroots' Club.

The programme will target high-risk abusers under the Long Term (LT) Imprisonment Regime, introduced in 1998 to mete out harsher penalties for repeat offenders.

"With about 1,000 LT offenders being released per year over the next three years, we need to ensure that there is a strong deterrent to them returning to drugs and influencing others, especially youth," said Mr Masagos.

A collaboration between the Singapore Prison Service and the Central Narcotics Bureau, the enhanced supervisory regime is part of a comprehensive approach to tackle the drug situation and was recommended by the Task Force on Drugs.

It will pave the way for a mandatory aftercare programme.

Mr Masagos said that more than 3,000 drug abusers were arrested last year, and that this number was half of the number of abusers in the 1990s.

Of those nabbed last year, about two thirds were repeat abusers. He also acknowledged the role of prison volunteers in helping former offenders reintegrate into society.

A total of 161 prison volunteers received awards for their services yesterday.

In the Singapore Prison Service, there are 1,200 volunteers aged between 21 and 88, he said.

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