Shanmugam Responds To Public Concerns Of Singapore Prison Conditions
Earlier this year, CNA’s series Inside Maximum Security documented inmates’ lives behind bars. Since then, the documentary has sparked conversations among viewers about living conditions in Changi Prison.
Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam stated on Monday (7 Jul) that the strict regime and environment are carefully planned and designed beforehand to minimise issues concerning hygiene and safety.
The current approach has also resulted in lower suicide rates in prisons.
Shanmugam highlights potential hygiene & security issues
Speaking in Parliament on Monday (4 Jul), Mr Shanmugam took the opportunity to address various concerns about Singapore’s prison conditions, which notably lacked fans and mattresses for inmates.
He explained that having mattresses in the compound is not ideal in Singapore’s hot and humid climate because of hygiene issues.
On the other hand, if fans were mounted in the cells, they could be dismantled, with the parts potentially used as weapons or “potential anchor points for suicide”.
To make up for this, Mr Shanmugam said there is a combination of natural and mechanical ventilation inside the cells.
The current straw mats provided for inmates help minimise security threats as inmates will not be able to hide any contraband or illegal goods.
Acknowledging that there are inmates who need extra care, Mr Shanmugam noted that they would have beds provided at medical wards and correctional units catered for assisted living.
The prisons are actively looking for other ways to ensure inmates’ physical conditions are well-maintained while meeting security requirements and working in Singapore’s climate.
Strict regime in Singapore prison protect inmates from harmful situations
Concerning the tight approach taken in Singapore’s prison management, Mr Shanmugam said the strict regimes help officers maintain more control over operations.
He compared it to other countries where “some inmates are allowed to exercise control over other inmates” or control an underground trade of drugs or contraband.
But in Singapore, he said,
The position is quite different. Our prisons officers run our prisons, not gangs.
Hence, he stressed that prison security must closely monitor prison activities to ensure officers stay alert to possible gang situations.
We try and maintain safety, order and discipline in our prisons. We want our inmates to be focused on rehab and turning their lives around without having to live in constant fear for their personal safety.
Hence, the prisons have always adopted a zero-tolerance stance towards gang-related activities.
Reach out to Singapore Prison Service if you have feedback
Life in prison is a far cry from the simple comforts many of us are used to, such as sleeping on a bed and enjoying aircon.
While it may be slightly distressing to imagine inmates sleeping in austere conditions for a prolonged period, it’s good to know the rationale behind such arrangements.
If you have a loved one in prison and would like to raise concerns about prison management, visit the Singapore Prison Service website here.
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Featured image adapted from Channel NewsAsia.
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