Important lessons to be drawn from prison death: Iswaran

SINGAPORE - Singapore can, and must, draw important lessons from the incident of an inmate who died after being restrained in jail, said Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran.

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 implemented," he said in a sombre speech at the 10th anniversary gala dinner for the Yellow Ribbon Fund on Saturday night.

Second, is that the community also expects the highest standards of professionalism in its prison officers.

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 died on Sept 27, 2010 after he assaulted a warden and was restrained by eight officers. The 21-year-old died from breathing difficulties after he was placed chest down on the ground 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 also review the actions of the officers involved, and assess what actions may have to be taken against them, said Mr Iswaran.

On Saturday night, $570,000 was raised for the Yellow Ribbon Fund, which will go to programmes to rehabilitate and reintegrate ex-offenders.

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