General Writings

Prison Policy Reforms — by Malaysian CARE for “Sunday Star”

1. A new start for both prisons and prisoners

New Life
New life: Ex-prisoner Sara (not her real name) learned how to bake breads and cakes during five years in Kajang women’s prison and is now working in a restaurant as a chef. — JPM

A QUIET revolution has been brewing within Malaysian prisons over the past couple of years.

The Prisons Department (JPM) has introduced some radical new programmes to offer inmates jobs and accommodation after they are released from prison.

It has involved all stakeholders in drafting a comprehensive plan to improve conditions for both wardens and prisoners. And it has submitted a package of proposals, which include prison reform, for the Twelfth Malaysia Plan (12MP).

Despite the political drama unfolding over the past fortnight, the 12MP for 2021 through 2025 appears to be on schedule so far. JPM has already submitted plans before the March 15 deadline, says Deputy Commissioner of Prisons (Policy Division) S. Gunasegaran… click for more

2. A ‘win-win-win’ situation for prisons, inmates and employers

Osman Lehan 1
“We want to achieve the prison’s goal of two-thirds being out of prison by 2030, working outside, ” says Osman Lehan— Santha Oorjitham

“WE want to achieve the prison’s goal of two-thirds being out of prison by 2030, working outside, ” says Osman Lehan, deputy director of the parole and community service division of the Prisons Department Malaysia (JPM).

“We are committed to localising our skilled workers and reducing our foreign workers,” says Hiroyuki Iwaki, managing director of Panasonic Appliances Air-Condi-tioning Malaysia.

“Give ex-prisoners a chance so that their future is ensured with programmes like Corporate Smart Internship, ” says Muhammad (not his real name), 31, who completed his eight-month parole at Panasonic last month. He is now an employee on six months’ probation in the company, looking forward to a bonus and annual increment later this year.

The path to achieving these different goals appears to be through Corporate Smart Internship (CSI) and other programmes introduced by JPM. The parole system began in 2008 to help prisoners compete in the job market, reduce recidivism, reduce dependence on foreign labour, and remove prejudices against ex-prisoners. Since then, over 33,000 parolees have gone through the programme across the country… click for more

3. Mentors with a difference

Nilesh composed a song which brought his audience to tears. — Santha Oorjitham

JOSEPH Wong has been teaching juvenile delinquents in Selangor for the past five years: first at Sekolah Integriti Kajang and then after it moved to the Puncak Alam correctional centre in Shah Alam in 2018.

The pre-release “Kelas Care” organised by Malaysian CARE is usually held in the heat of the afternoon. It can be a challenge for the students to stay awake, let alone stay on topic.

“I’ve never seen their full focus on the trainer, ” says Wong, a staffer with the community development department of Malaysian CARE, a non-governmental organisation.

But last month, he brought ex-juvenile delinquent Ajib (not his real name) with him. “I was quite surprised,” says Wong. “He completely caught their attention. They really looked at him and listened to him.” … click for more

4. The Yellow Ribbon that holds the key

Lim hopes the Yellow Ribbon Project will include all age groups in the future. — Santha Oorjitham

“A SIMPLE yellow ribbon’s what I need to set me free,” sang Tony Orlando and Dawn, way back in 1973.

The song tells the story of a man released after three years in jail who asks his girl to tie a yellow ribbon on an oak tree to let him know if she still wants him. “I’m really still in prison and my love, she holds the key, ” sings the man. His girl, in reply, ties not just one but hundreds of yellow ribbons on the tree.

That song inspired the Yellow Ribbon Project (YRP), launched in Singapore 16 years ago to give ex-inmates a second chance in life and encourage the community to support them and their families.

Then Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman launched YRP in Malaysia at Sungai Buloh Prison in October 2018 to help ex-prisoners, supervised prisoners and young offenders at the Henry Gurney Schools to rebuild their lives after serving their sentences. The Home Ministry, Prisons Department, private sector and non-governmental organisations collaborated on the project… click for more


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