KUCHING: Rehabilitation of offenders in prison is one way forward in the effort to reduce crime, said Welfare, Women and Community Wellbeing Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah.
She said the aim of rehabilitation was to help offenders turn over a new leaf and equip them with skills to get a job after leaving prison so that they would not end up behind bars again.
“I’m a strong supporter of rehabilitation. Evidence shows that successful rehabilitation is good for communities in many ways, including a significant reduction in criminal activities.
“So our way forward to ensure there is less crime is not only to depend on legislation, compliance with the law and effective enforcement. What’s important also is successful rehabilitation,” she said when handing over kuih raya to the state prison department at Jalan Puncak Borneo here.
As such, Fatimah said it was important for rehabilitation programmes to be given emphasis.
She said the trend in developed countries nowadays, some of which had practised capital punishment in the past, was to rehabilitate criminals.
“Even in our own penal system here, the courts are sentencing some offenders to do community service instead of sending them to prison for lesser crimes.
“This option gives the offenders the chance to turn over a new leaf,” she said.
Touching on capital punishment, Fatimah noted that Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri had told a convention overseas that a government-backed study on the death penalty had been completed and a paper being prepared by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
“Personally, the death penalty is like the point of no return. There is no second chance, no rehabilitation. This is something we have to think about,” she said.
She also said there were currently 1,891 inmates in six prisons in the state, including 607 at the Puncak Borneo prison.
“I was given to understand that compared with other states, this figure is quite low,” she added.
She later presented 250 boxes of kuih raya from the state government to the prison personnel.