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Home / People / In the Spotlight / Reintegrating ex-offenders with the “soft touch”  
Published: 03 May 2011 09:41AM (Singapore)
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Reintegrating ex-offenders with the “soft touch”
A case manager from the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises explains how understanding prisoners’ mentality is the key to helping them rebuild their lives.
By Tan Yi Wen
SCORE case manager Md Adhha Jimari at work, where he manages his cases by calling them up for updates and visiting their workplaces to talk to them and to the employers. PHOTO: Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises

When inmates and ex-offenders become frustrated in their new jobs, the first person they often vent their anger on is their case manager from the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE).

For SCORE case manager Md Adhha Jimari, understanding that inmates and ex-offenders sometimes just need a listening ear helps him deal with their anger.

As a case manager, his task is to help inmates and ex-offenders look for jobs and ensure that they stay in it for at least six months, an important role in helping ex-offenders reintegrate back into the society upon their release.

A prison officer who was seconded to SCORE since June 2009, Mr Adhha believes that understanding how inmates and ex-offenders think is the key to helping them rebuild their lives.

“My experience as prison officer helped me know when to come in and when to back off when they get angry,” said Mr Adhha, who has 10 years of experience as a prison officer.

The 33-year-old added: “If you pull the string too much it will snap.”

Inmates or ex-offenders who just started working can become worried that others treat them differently, said Mr Adhha.

He added that even though the employers welcome them, they feel otherwise because some of them have been incarcerated for a long time, and their experience behind bars might have changed their perspective on society. 

Mr Jimari (right), a SCORE case manager, visits an inmate at his workplace to find out how he is adapting to his job and work environment. PHOTO: Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises

Mr Adhha took up a Temasek Polytechnic diploma in Correctional and Management Studies sponsored by the Singapore Prison Service.

The course helped him understand why people commit crimes and taught him some ways of dealing with the root causes and motivations of these criminals.

One method that Mr Adhha has found useful is using “family as the soft touch” to keep inmates and ex-offenders motivated in their jobs.

He does so by finding out about each family and its culture and dynamics such as taking note when a household is going through a divorce or if the inmate or ex-offender is the sole bread winner of the family.
“I find out who are their loved ones are and make that as the motivation for them. I tell them: 'It's not about going out to work and earning money, it's about your grandmother who comes every time to prison to visit you at that age,'” said Mr Adhha.

The case manager also gets family members involved in helping the inmates and ex-offenders rebuild their lives.

“When family members are giving their support and it becomes something that everyone is working on, they will be motivated to work,” he added.

For Mr Adhha, the job satisfaction comes from interacting with the inmates and ex-offenders, and helping them work towards a better future.

He said: “The good part is the part where we see them grow. At the end of the day if they really know how to help themselves, as we can only help them in certain aspects, that's where they will succeed in life.”

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