In 2021, the convicted prison population in Singapore stood at just under six thousand, the lowest it has been in the past ten years. This was in part due to the focus on rehabilitation instead of punishment, especially for drug offenses.
Demographics of the penal population
Singapore has a relatively low crime rate. However, it also has a tough stance on drugs. The consumption and possession of drugs are illegal in Singapore, with punishment for offenders ranging from caning, long-term imprisonment, to capital punishment for drug trafficking. The severity of the penal provisions against drugs in Singapore is reflected in its prisons; in 2020, the number of people convicted for drug offences amounted to 4.65 thousand. Overall, there is quite a significant difference between the genders of the inmate population, where most of the convicted are male and the age-group of the convicted mostly range from 21 to 60 years old.
Rehabilitation, not incarceration
In January 2019, Singapore passed the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Act, which channeled repeat drug abusers to the Drug Rehabilitation Center (DRC) instead of long-term imprisonment. This spiked the number of DRC admissions in that year, and conversely a drop in prison admissions. Rehabilitation programs in both the DRC as well as prison focuses on the reintegration of inmates in society through improving employability, improving family ties and support, as well as personal growth through counselling. This approach has helped keep Singapore’s recidivism rate relatively low.
Total convicted penal population in Singapore from 2012 to 2021
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SPS. (February 9, 2022). Total convicted penal population in Singapore from 2012 to 2021 [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved August 15, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/980910/total-convicted-penal-population-singapore/
SPS. "Total convicted penal population in Singapore from 2012 to 2021." Chart. February 9, 2022. Statista. Accessed August 15, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/980910/total-convicted-penal-population-singapore/
SPS. (2022). Total convicted penal population in Singapore from 2012 to 2021. Statista. Statista Inc.. Accessed: August 15, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/980910/total-convicted-penal-population-singapore/
SPS. "Total Convicted Penal Population in Singapore from 2012 to 2021." Statista, Statista Inc., 9 Feb 2022, https://www.statista.com/statistics/980910/total-convicted-penal-population-singapore/
SPS, Total convicted penal population in Singapore from 2012 to 2021 Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/980910/total-convicted-penal-population-singapore/ (last visited August 15, 2022)