Ministry of Home Affairs, Policy Development Agency
- Consultation Period:
- 02 Jul 2021 - 30 Jul 2021
1. The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Law invite the public to provide feedback on our proposals to introduce: (i) Detention for Public Protection; and (ii) Enhanced Detention for Public Protection.
2. The Corrective Training (CT) and Preventive Detention (PD) regimes were introduced in 1954 to deal with repeat offenders.
a. The CT regime applies to repeat offenders aged 18 years and above, whom the Courts assess need corrective training for a substantial period of time, followed by supervision if released before the expiration of the sentence, with a view to the offender’s reformation and prevention of further crime. The Court must impose a term of between 5 years and 14 years.1
b. The PD regime applies to repeat offenders aged 30 years and above, whom the Courts assess need to be detained for a substantial period of time, followed by supervision if released before the expiration of the sentence, for the protection of the public. The Court must impose a term of between 7 years and 20 years.2 Generally, the PD regime is reserved for more egregious cases, compared to the CT regime.
3. Under the CT and PD regimes, offenders can potentially be detained for periods longer than the maximum imprisonment term prescribed for the offence. For example, a charge for voluntarily causing hurt under section 323 of the Penal Code carries a maximum 3-year jail term. However, if the offender is found suitable for CT or PD due to a string of previous convictions, the Court may impose higher sentences: (i) a term of between 5 and 14 years’ CT; or (ii) a term of between 7 and 20 years’ PD.
Impetus for a Review
4. We are reviewing the effectiveness of the CT and PD regimes, and whether more should be done to protect the public from dangerous and repeat offenders.
5. CT and PD have been imposed to deal with repeat offenders, so that they are detained for longer periods, to prevent them from committing further crimes, and during which detention they will undergo rehabilitation programmes and supervision. Examples of offenders sentenced to CT and PD are as follows:
|(a)|| In June 2020, an offender was sentenced to the maximum 20 years’ PD for sexually assaulting his 12-year-old stepdaughter, less than 2 years after he was released from prison for raping his 11-year-old niece (for which he was sentenced to 24 years’ imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane).
The offender was found to have a high risk of re-offending and had a clear pattern of sexual deviation.
|(b)|| In September 2015, an offender was sentenced to 5 years’ CT and 12 strokes of the cane for committing numerous offences involving harassment on behalf of licensed moneylenders, failing to report for urine tests, and repeat consumption of a specified drug. Numerous other charges were taken into consideration in the sentencing.
He had a total of 173 antecedents involving various offences, such as theft and drug consumption.
|(c)|| In November 2018, a burglar was sentenced to 7 years’ PD for committing housebreaking. He committed this offence less than 1 month after his release from prison, for a property-related offence.
He had a total of 19 property-related antecedents, and had previously undergone CT for housebreaking.
6. In recent years, we have seen egregious cases where offenders committed serious violent or sexual offences after release from prison, which raises the question of whether more should be done to protect the public from such dangerous offenders:
|(a)|| The offender, a paedophile, had previously been jailed for sexually abusing his 4-year-old daughter.
Within 2 years of his release, he reoffended. Between 2012 and 2014, he sexually abused his girlfriend’s 8-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son. The offender brought the children to a hotel in Geylang on 24 occasions, forced them to watch pornography, instructed them to simulate sexual intercourse with each other, and filmed their acts. The children complied with his instructions as they were helpless and afraid. The offender made them repeat the sexual acts until he was satisfied with the recordings. In July 2020, he was sentenced to 24 years’ imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane.
The offender was diagnosed as a paedophile with a high risk of sexual reoffending.
|(b)|| The offender had previously been jailed for numerous offences, including unlawful carnal connection with a 14-year-old girl, but re-offended after release.
In March 2020, he was sentenced to 18 years and 6 months’ imprisonment for a series of offences, including sexually assaulting his youngest daughter over 3 years since she was 6 years old.
|(c)|| In September 2000, the Police responded to a report of domestic violence and found the victim in a horrifying state in a filthy room. The abuser and the victim had two children (a 4-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son) who were found in a dirty and unkempt state.
Doctors found that the victim was malnourished, had patches of hair missing from her scalp, was totally blind in one eye and had limited sight in the other, had multiple slash wounds all over her body, had broken bones, and had various other old and new injuries from physical and sexual abuse. Her abuser was convicted of several charges and sentenced to 7.5 years’ imprisonment and 9 strokes of the cane.
Upon the abuser’s release from prison, he immediately went looking for the victim and resumed abusing her. The victim was found with signs of physical abuse, including bruises on her face, hands, body, a broken ankle, and a hairline fracture in the spine. The abuser was convicted again in 2009 but was sentenced only to 4 weeks’ imprisonment. Due to the extent of the physical and mental abuse experienced by the victim, as well as the abuser’s controlling behaviour, it was difficult for the Police and Prosecutors to elicit detailed evidence regarding the specific incidents of abuse.
Upon the abuser’s release, he began looking for the victim again. Fortunately, he could not find her because she had been placed in a closed institution and her whereabouts were not revealed to him.
7. Our review of the CT and PD regime, as well as our review of past cases (such as those mentioned above), reveal the following:
a. First, while the sentencing options of CT and PD continue to be relevant and useful to deal with repeat offenders (as shown by the cases above), there is scope to streamline the two regimes, given that they share a similar purpose of protecting the public from repeat offenders.
b. Second, more should be done to protect the public from dangerous offenders who might continue to pose a serious public safety risk upon their release from prison. There is a need to enhance our levers to ensure that an offender’s risk to public safety is duly assessed before release, and that the offender’s re-integration into the community is closely supervised and assessed, before he is permanently released without supervision.
Proposal to Streamline the CT and PD Regimes (Renamed “Detention for Public Protection”)
8. Given the similarities between the CT and PD regimes, we propose to repeal the CT regime, and make the following changes to the PD regime, to streamline the sentencing options for repeat offenders (see Annex A for further details):
a. We propose to re-name PD as “Detention for Public Protection” (DPP), to better reflect the purpose of this sentence, which is to protect the public from repeat offenders.
b. We propose to lower the age criterion from 30 years of age to 21 years of age, so that we will continue to have levers to deal with repeat adult offenders aged between 21 – 29, who would previously have been eligible for the CT regime.
c. We propose to reduce the number of previous convictions required, from 3 to 2, as 2 previous convictions were required for the CT regime.
d. We propose to lower the minimum term from 7 years to 5 years, as 5 years was the minimum term under the CT regime.3
e. We propose to allow the offender to be eligible for discretionary release on licence (ROL), under supervision in the community, after the offender has served two-thirds of the sentence, which is the current position for CT (in contrast, a PD offender is eligible for ROL only after serving five-sixths of the sentence). We propose for the Minister for Home Affairs to consider the recommendation of the Detention Review Board (DRB), and what would best serve the interest of the protection of the public, in determining if the offender should be placed on ROL.4 If the Minister decides not to place the offender on ROL, the offender will be re-evaluated annually on his suitability for ROL. While on ROL, conditions may be imposed. For instance, an offender may be subject to curfew or electronic monitoring.
f. We propose to introduce discretionary enhanced penalties for fresh offences committed while on ROL. When sentencing the offender for the fresh offence, the Court shall have the discretion to additionally impose an enhanced punishment of up to the remainder of the original DPP sentence.5
Proposal to Introduce Enhanced Detention for Public Protection
9. We propose to introduce a new sentence called “Enhanced Detention for Public Protection” (EDPP), to enhance our levers to deal with dangerous offenders. This sentencing regime aims to ensure that an offender’s risk to public safety is given due consideration before the offender is released. The key features are as follows:
a. Qualifying offences: Unlike the DPP regime, which applies to repeat offenders who commit offences punishable with at least 2 years’ imprisonment, we propose for the EDPP regime to be applicable only to offenders who commit very serious hurt or sexual offences (e.g. rape or culpable homicide). Our proposed list of offences is in Annex B.
b. Minimum age: We propose for the offender to be at least 21 years of age at the time of the offence.6
c. Minimum incarceration period: We propose that the Court must specify a minimum incarceration period of between 5 and 20 years, that the offender must serve before being considered for release. The minimum incarceration period is intended to be punitive in nature and reflect the gravity of the offence.
d. Criteria: Only (i) repeat offenders; or (ii) first-time offenders who pose a serious threat to the life, safety or physical or mental well-being of other persons, may be sentenced to EDPP. For both scenarios, the Court must determine that it is in the interest of the protection of the public that the offender be detained for at least the minimum incarceration period, and be released only if the offender is suitable for release (details of the full criteria in Annex C).
e. Review for release on licence: After the offender has served the minimum incarceration period, the DRB7 will review whether or not the offender should be placed on ROL. The Minister for Home Affairs will consider the recommendation of the DRB, and what would best serve the interest of the protection of the public, in determining if the offender should be placed on ROL. If the Minister decides not to place the offender on ROL, the offender will be re-evaluated annually on his suitability for ROL.
f. Supervision during release: While on ROL, conditions may be imposed. For instance, an offender may be subject to curfew or electronic monitoring. Breaches may result in revocation of the ROL. If the offender reoffends while on ROL, the Court shall have the discretion when sentencing the offender for the fresh offence, to additionally impose an enhanced punishment of up to 20 years.8
g. Permanent release: After an offender has completed a period of supervision, the DRB will assess if the offender should: (i) be permanently released; (ii) continue to be on ROL; or (iii) have the ROL revoked and be re-detained in prison9. If the offender is not permanently released, the offender will be re-evaluated annually. The Minister for Home Affairs will consider the recommendation of the DRB, and what would best serve the interest of the protection of the public.
10. We invite the public to share your views on the proposals via this link https://go.gov.sg/feedback4sentencing by 30 July 2021.
11. After the feedback closes on 30 July 2021, we will publish a summary of the key feedback received and our responses on this website, when ready.
1This term entails detention in prison as well as possible early release for supervision in the community.
2This term entails detention in prison as well as possible early release for supervision in the community.
3We propose for the maximum term to continue to be 20 years, which is the same as the current PD regime.
4The DRB is a new proposal. We envisage for the DRB to provide recommendations to the Minister on matters pertaining to DPP and Enhanced DPP. This is similar to the current position for life imprisonment and long imprisonment of 30 years or more, where the Life Imprisonment Review Board and the Long Imprisonment Review Board (respectively) will provide recommendations to the Minister on whether such prisoners should be released on remission (we propose also to replace the remission regime with the ROL regime for persons serving life imprisonment or long imprisonment sentences for certain offences).
5In deciding whether to impose any enhanced punishment, the Court shall consider — (i) the gravity of the offence; (ii) whether the offence is of a similar nature to the offence for which the person on ROL was originally sentenced; (iii) the length of time for which the person did not commit any offence after being placed on ROL; and (iv) all other relevant circumstances.
6As rehabilitation is generally the dominant consideration for offenders below 21, this sentencing option is unlikely to be suitable for young offenders.
7See footnote 4 for the details of the DRB.
8The discretionary enhanced punishment is capped at 20 years, as 20 years is the maximum duration of the minimum incarceration period, as explained in paragraph 9(c). See also footnote 5 for the factors that a Court shall consider in determining whether to impose an enhanced punishment.
9For completeness, where the period of supervision is 2 years or more, the offender will be assessed by the DRB at the 2-year mark on whether the offender should (i) be permanently released; (ii) continue to be on ROL; or (iii) have the ROL revoked and be re-detained in prison. Where the period of supervision is less than 2 years, the offender will be assessed by the DRB after he completes his supervision period.