Death of inmate in prison: Important lessons to be learnt, says minister

SINGAPORE - There are important lessons for Singapore to draw from the incident of a prisoner who died after being restrained, Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran said on Saturday.

One is to recognise that prison officers have to fulfil two important roles: that of a disciplinarian and also a counsellor.

"Good management and high standards of discipline are essential prerequisites in penal institutions; because this is the foundation upon which effective rehabilitation programmes can be delivered," The Straits Times quoted Mr Iswaran as saying at the 10th anniversary gala dinner for the Yellow Ribbon Fund on Saturday.

The community also expects the highest standards of professionalism in its prison officers, he said.

Mr Iswaran, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, said he was confident that prison officers will emerge stronger from the incident, and urged the community not to let this episode taint the good work that they have put in.

Inmate Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah, 21, died on Sept 27, 2010, after he assaulted a warden and was restrained by eight officers. He died from breathing difficulties after he was placed chest down in an isolation cell.

On Friday, deputy superintendent of prisons Lim Kwo Yin was fined $10,000 after he pleaded guilty to causing the death of the inmate by negligence.

The Singapore Prison Service will review the actions of the officers involved, and assess what actions may have to be taken against them.

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