Saturday, August 9, 2008

Healer or Jailer ?


Let's learn the strategy from Prison Director Mr Ng Joo Hee.

"Prisoner numbers at new low

Construction work on the S$ 1 million new Changi Prison Complex halted temporarily"
(Full news on frontpage of THE STRAITS TIMES FRIDAY, AUGUST 8 2008, by Teh Joo Lin < >)

1.When plans were drawn up for a sprawling prison complex in the late 1990s, the authorities thought they might have 23,000 people behind bars beyond 2010.

2.The average daily inmate population had been climbing, hitting 17,697 by 2002. But then the numbers began to slow down, and last year it hit 11,768 - a 10-year low. The figures do not include those on programmes such as home detention and work release schemes.

3.It was an unexpected but happy situation. Accordingly, the brakes have been put on the completion of the Changi Prison Complex. Two of the four clusters will not go up for now. It is money saved too, given the dizzying rise in construction costs.

So why the lower numbers?

Point #1
. One reason: fewer "returnee" prisoners. In 1998, almost one in two freed prisoners were back in jail within two years. In 2005, only one in four went back.

Comment/Suggestion: Hope to see fewer "returnee" patients in our hospitals and clinics, too. In 1998, it was 50%, then in 2005, it was only 25%. How were the figures from the hospitals and clinics? Kudos to Prison Unit.

Point #2. Getting the drug situation under control helped too. In 1997, drug rehabilitation centres housed 5,508 abusers. Last year(2007), just 451 were locked up.

Comment/Suggestion: Hope the Health Unit can learn to get the drug situation under control too. There are many sickness or diseases can be solved without drug(s) just because it is there. 'License to use' is not license to abuse. Hope the "locked up" patients can be free from drugs as soon as possible with the help of paradigm change in approach, from top to bottom. Kudos to Prison Unit.

Point #3. "In an ageing population, you generally see a lower crime rate. Therefore, there is lower incarceration."

Comment/Suggestion: Hope the Health Unit can really effectively lower its 'incarceration' too, not withstanding the ageing population we have here. Kudos to Prison Unit.

The crime rate last year was 696 per 100,000 people, a drop from 974 in 1997.

Point #4.One other factor: The courts have been slower to pack convicts to jail. Senior laywers like Mr.T.U.Naidu noted judges have become more open to other sentencing options like probation.(Kudos to the judicious Judiciary & Prison Units)

Comment/Suggestion: Hope the Health Unit be slower to pack patients to lifetime medication. Doctors or senior registrars can be more open to other natural modalities in treatments of patients other than the present set protocols. Credentials aside, it is the effective and safety of the treatments to the patients that counts at the end of the day. Let the patients use the Water-Cure Formula first, for three days, and monitor the patients' condition prior to immediate drug medication:Drink at least 10% of your own daily water-quota (31.42 ml multiply by your present body weight(kg), every 90 minutes. Use 1/4 teaspoon of sea-salt in your daily diet, for every 1250 ml water drank. There is nothing to lose, after all, the body has survive thus far under the present circumstances. Many patients need to learn that unintentional-prolonged-dehydration can cause many body pain and manifest sign/symptom to indicate the need for re hydration. Too quick to prescribe drugs to dehydration-related patients can further complicate the body physiology and recovery process later on. We can do better than what we are doing today with/for our citizens-patients.

Point #5.Mr Ng Joo Hee said: "We're probably the only jurisdiction in the world of a decent size to put all our prisoners in one place. We do this because land is precious and we can return some of the land."

Comment/Suggestion: Hope all directors of public services can say the same. Kudos to Prison Unit.

Point #6: Given the overcrowding problem prisons elsewhere face, Singapore is in "quite a good situation". This means more attention can be devoted to rehabilitation prisoners.

Comment/Suggestion: "Patient-Care versus Disease Theory" decide the outcome for our hospitals present situation. It is the person-patients orientated approach which is the key, and not the disease(s) they are having that enable "quite a good situation" and more attention were given to the patients that will hasten their recovery. Kudos to Prison Unit.

Point #7: Mr Ng said ensuring that inmates do not re-offend is key, as about 11,000 of them are release every year. Hence, the importance of initiatives like the Yellow Ribbon Project and a slew of work programmes to help ex-convicts return to society.
It is really smart and practical thing to do. We don't just do it because we've bleeding hearts ... we do it because we want to reduce harm in society."

Comment/Suggestion: Tie a Yellow Ribbon round the old Oak tree for I am coming home, family. I have done my time in the hospital. I long to go home. Kudos to Prisons Unit.

Point #8: One "very special group" the Prisons is focusing on is young inmates aged below 21, who numbered 550 last year(2007). They will get more chances to advance their studies while serving their sentences.

Comment/Suggestion: Young patients while under the hospitals care should be taught the basic of health recovery and maintenance so they will not be repeated-patient, thus contribute positively to the country economy well being.

"We've got a golden opportunity to give them education. They have their whole lives ahead of them. If we don't do anything for them, they could well be on a lifetime of crime." - Mr Ng said.

More healthy citizens make wealthier nation, happy recovery Singapore.

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