Total convicted prison population in Singapore 2010-2019

In 2019, the convicted prison population in Singapore stood at just over eight 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 2019, two thirds of the prison population were convicted for drug offences. Singapore’s inmate population was also overwhelmingly male, and the majority were over the age of 40 years.

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 led to a spike in 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 2010 to 2019

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Release date

February 2020



Survey time period

2010 to 2019

Supplementary notes

According to the source, "convicted penal population refers to the number of inmates who have already been charged and are within the inmate population as at the end of the respective year."

Data prior to 2017 found in previous reports.

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Statistics on "Penal system in Singapore"

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