Drug abusers who don’t commit crimes to be sentenced to rehab
Changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) tabled in Parliament yesterday could see a distinction between abusers who do not commit other crimes and repeat drug offenders who resort to crimes to feed their dangerous habit.
Drug abusers who do not commit crimes will be sentenced to the Drug Rehabilitation Centre (DRC), with shorter periods of incarceration and earlier integration into society compared with the current sentencing options.
Currently, drug abusers arrested for the first and second time undergo rehabilitation in the DRC. But those arrested for the third time or more face Long-Term (LT) imprisonment.
LT1 and LT2 sentences carry heavier penalties with jail terms starting at five years and a minimum of three strokes of the cane (for LT1).
"The enhanced rehabilitation regime, targeted at abusers who do not face other concurrent charges, will help them break the cycle of addiction more effectively and reintegrate into society sooner," said the Ministry of Home Affairs in a statement on the Bill tabled by Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo.
The enhanced rehabilitation regime, targeted at abusers who do not face other concurrent charges, will help them break the cycle of addiction more effectively and reintegrate into society sooner.Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo""
"However, drug abusers who commit other criminal offences and harm society will continue to be dealt with very strictly. They will be charged in court and be liable for imprisonment and caning, including LT."
Changes to the LT regime were among amendments to the MDA, last amended in 2012.
The others proposed include new offences to criminalise "contamination acts" of actively introducing a drug trafficker to another person or teaching young people to consume drugs.
The move to separate drug abusers and focus on their rehabilitation was welcomed by in-care and after-care volunteer counsellor Tan Han Lay, 47, who visits Changi Prison weekly to counsel inmates.
"I have seen drug abuse inmates change to become hardened criminals when they mix with the wrong crowd in prison," said Mr Tan, who has spent 28 years of his life behind bars for a string of drug offences.
Abusers will be individually assessed and released from DRC detention only when Prisons staff find them to be ready.
After completing the community-based programme, abusers will be required to report regularly to the Central Narcotics Bureau for urine or hair testing.
Likewise, the maximum period of supervision will go up - from the current two years to five.