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Registration of Criminals (Amendment) Bill 2005

Source: www.mha.gov.sg

Second Reading Speech For The Registration Of Criminals (Amendment) Bill 2005, 16 May 2005

Mr Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.
Introduction
Sir, in summing up the debate on the President's Address in January this year, PM spoke about Singapore being a land of opportunity, as a nation where everyone belongs, where each person has a role to play, and where all can live with dignity.
In particular, he noted that, as a land of opportunity, we should provide, for those who have committed mistakes, a second chance to make good.
Sir, this Bill is a step in that direction: to provide a second chance for ex-offenders who have paid their dues to society and have shown the resolve and ability to stay away from crime.
We are amending the Registration of Criminals Act or "RCA" to allow the record of a conviction kept in the Register of Criminals for a less serious crime to be considered as spent if the person stays clean after a specified period.
The purpose is to help such deserving ex-offenders put their past behind them. Indeed, together with the Home Detention scheme which MHA introduced 5 years ago, which we recently enhanced, these are two key platforms to help reformed offenders and ex-offenders who have genuinely repented to reintegrate into society.
Under the RCA, Police keeps records in the Register of Criminals of persons convicted of any crime specified in the First and Second Schedules of the Act. Particulars such as the photograph, finger impressions, and conviction records are recorded.
It is a record for life. The Register of Criminals is very useful in Police investigations, especially in the identification of suspects. The courts also make use of these criminal records when sentencing repeat offenders.
Giving Ex-Offenders a Second Chance
While society must be protected from recalcitrant offenders who persist in committing crimes, there are ex-offenders who have genuinely turned over a new leaf.
Many of these people were convicted of minor crimes many years ago and have since demonstrated that they can stay away from trouble. They deserve to be given a second chance.
One such ex-offender that we know of is a university graduate in her late twenties who was convicted in court and fined $1,000 for theft several years ago. Since then, this lady has turned over a new leaf and stayed away from crime. However, many employers were reluctant to employ her. There were a few occasions when she managed to get a job but each time, the constant fear and sense of insecurity caused her to resign after a few weeks.
With the assistance of the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises or "SCORE", this lady graduate managed to find an employer willing to give her a second chance. This has greatly improved her morale and self-worth. There are many other similar examples of ex-offenders who have turned over a new leaf, but continue to encounter difficulties in their search for gainful employment.
MHA recognises that there is a need to facilitate the reintegration of ex-offenders into our society. To this end, SCORE already plays a key role in providing inmates with opportunities to pick up useful skills, to enhance their chances of landing a job when released from prison.
The "Yellow Ribbon" project, jointly organised by member agencies of the Community Action for the Rehabilitation of Ex-offenders or "CARE" Network, aims to remove the social stigma faced by those who have been convicted of crimes.
We are gratified by the strong support from the public for this project. While these initiatives have greatly benefited ex-offenders, more can be done to help those who have since stayed on the right side of the law.
In reviewing the RCA, MHA studied the two options of either expunging the record or rendering it spent. Expunging a record means erasing the record completely, to the extent that the ex-offender is deemed to have never been convicted of that offence. In contrast, when a person's record becomes spent, he is deemed to have no record of that conviction, but it does not remove the fact of conviction.
As we are making a start in this area, we have decided to do so on a more cautious note, by providing for criminal records to become spent. In the light of experience gained, we can consider expunging criminal records in the future.
More.....

Source: Ministry of Home Affairs Press Release 16 May 2005

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Monday
16 May 2005