Improve the efficiency of Changi Prison and ease communication b/w inmates and loved ones

Improve the efficiency of Changi Prison and ease communication b/w inmates and loved ones

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Evelyn Goh started this petition to Ministry of Home Affairs and

I am a friend of an inmate who is currently in remand in Changi Prison. It has been x months ever since he was transported from State Courts (after his first mention) and put in Changi Prison for remand because his family couldn't afford the bail amount in cash. 

It has been difficult reaching out to him. After my friend's first mention, he was offered bail by the Judge. Long story short, we couldn't attain enough money by 5pm and he was transported to Changi Prison. 

A day after the mention, his father was overseas and could only come back in a week. What about his mother? His dad is the only PR in the family that resides in Singapore. His mother is in her home country. So, the best I could do as his closest friend was to call and reach out to Changi Prison.
I explained the situation to the person on the phone and managed to get his prison number for letters and visitation. Now, this was where it got a little complicated.

"His dad is overseas, and will only be back this weekend. His dad is his only kin residing in Singapore. Is there any way you can let my friend know that we are coming to see him?"

Fact #1: They are not obliged to let the inmates know even if their family has plans to see them despite circumstances. 

His dad flew back, and he immediately contacted Changi Prison's hotline.

"Can we bring vitamins, new clothes or notebooks for him?"

"Don't worry sir, your son will be well taken care of sir."

What he was told was that his son will be well taken care of in Changi Prison and they are also provided notebooks and pencils. The guy on the line had been super patient and helpful, and I felt so thankful for that.

Before my friend was transported to Changi, he called his dad through the in-charge's phone and his dad informed my friend that he couldn't afford the bail. My friend understood the situation and was agreeable with his dad's decision.
His dad and I went to the Changi Prison Complex on the week of his dad's return from overseas.

Fact #2: You have to book a visit 2 weeks in advance. (In our case, we were lucky to be able book a visit in a few days even though we made a call on the same day we went to the Complex, thanks to that same helpful guy on the Changi Prison hotline)

We sat down on the seats provided in the Changi Prison Complex and started writing letters to the person that we've been missing.

His dad then received a call. The person on the phone should be an officer in-charge. She said that my friend has requested for bail. Remember: My friend agreed previously that it was okay if he couldn't be bailed out because it was too expensive. 

When asked when his son asked for bail again, my friend's dad was told that he requested for bail on the 5th day of his remand.

It took 5 days for his next of kin to be informed. It's understandable that there are countless inmates that have to be taken care of, but it is still worrying that family members are unable to let their loved ones in prison know that they can expect a visit. Surely that could bring some joy and hope to the inmate.

We couldn't get books to him soon either. This is all very disheartening. I felt helpless.

But wait, we can send letters.

After the call his dad and I continued to pour our hearts out to our letters for our beloved. 

Done. It's in the mailbox at Changi Prison Complex. It was 3pm and there weren't many letters that I saw. Hopefully it should get to him before we visit him on Monday. 

It doesn't work like that. A day after posting the letters. I called Changi Prison to enquire about the letters. The person informed me that the letter will be picked up DEPENDING on the officer collecting them. And it takes up to 10 working days to reach the inmates because of their censorship process. 

We can't let our loved ones know that we are coming to see them, and close friends have to wait up to 2 weeks to get approved as visitors.

Fact #3: Letters take up to 10 working days to be given to the inmates. Those that are not approved, the inmates will not get to see. Envelopes are kept for months or years and then disposed of after. Inmates don't get to keep the envelopes (according to the person on the Changi Prison Services line).

The mission of Changi Prison Services is:
"As a correctional agency, we enforce secure custody of offenders and rehabilitate them for a safe Singapore."

When it comes to rehabilitation, mental health is especially important too. Especially when you've been in a cell for a while. Family plays a big part when it comes to rehabilitation and moral support for the inmate.

My friend is a good and loving person. It is alarming that he was asking for bail on Day 5 and we only found out on Day 10. Once again, there's a process - so this is understandable.

Letters are actually one of the best kinds of moral support we can give to inmates especially when they are in a cell almost 24 hours a day. Today is Day 12, and that's 288 hours. 

Please help me share this petition to give Changi Prison Services and Ministry of Home Affairs a nudge to improve the process of delivering letters or messages (with all good intentions) to our loved ones that may be in remand or prison right now. We just want to be here for them, and we want them to know that. 

Our hearts are breaking.

Thank you for hearing us out.

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