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Parliament passes laws for eligible convicts to work outside prison and be home on selected days

Parliament passes laws for eligible convicts to work outside prison and be home on selected days

The Prison Bill, which was passed after a debate in Parliament on Tuesday (Jan 11), will allow inmates to take up skills training, education and work in the community before they finish serving their sentences — under a new programme called Employment Preparation Scheme (EmPS). 

Replacing the current work release scheme, which allows prisoners to be released only for work towards the tail-end of their sentence, the new programme will allow suitable inmates who show good progress to eventually return to their homes on weekends or even daily after their work, skills training workshops or educational classes. 

Eligible inmates will include those who have served at least 14 days in prison. 

Apart from how much prisoners will be paid for their work, several Members of Parliament (MPs) wanted to know how inmates will be selected to be part of EmPS, the type of jobs or skills training they will get and how they will manage the stigma towards convicts when they are out in the community.

PAYMENT AND WORK CONDITIONS

Mr Leon Perera, opposition MP for Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC), said that companies should not be using prisoners as sources of cheap labour and end up unfairly benefitting from it. 

Mr Yip Hon Weng, MP for Yio Chu Kang, warned of errant employers who may join the programme just to benefit from the various government grants and positive publicity. 

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