As a Correctional Unit Officer, Jing Jie is responsible for the operations and security of the correctional unit, as well as inmate's discipline and rehabilitation. He joined the service with a Diploma in Banking and Finance, Ngee Ann Polytechnic and recently furthered his studies on a MHA Degree Scholarship to obtain a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Criminology and Security, University of Liverpool.
Singapore Prison Service (SPS) is not your typical prison.
SPS's approach of correction and rehabilitation and its dedication to transforming lives and the society has helped to keep recidivism rates in Singapore low and stable, and have earned its officers the well-deserved moniker, Captains of Lives. The title recognises their roles as mentors, coaches, and role models to guide inmates back on the right path.
Lim Jing Jie, Correctional Unit Officer, is one of the Captains of Lives. As a Correctional Unit Officer at Institution A1, a maximum security prison that houses inmates with high security ratings, Jing Jie is responsible for the operations and security of a correctional unit, as well as inmate's discipline and rehabilitation. Beyond his daily tasks, he is most proud of his role to help inmates change and become responsible citizens.
SPS also believes in grooming its officers. Ho Yeow Nam, an Admin & Personnel Officer in the Staff Development & Corporate Services, Operations & Security Command, is currently pursuing a bachelor's in public safety and Security at SUSS under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Degree Scholarship. By furthering his knowledge in this specific area, he can better help his inmates and provide more effective guidance throughout SPS.
The duo form a complete picture of the engaging and fulfilling career development path available at SPS, captaining not just the lives of others but taking charge of their own life trajectories as well.
A Meaningful Career
"In all honesty, joining SPS was not my 'top of mind' career choice," Yeow Nam shares. "However, during my job hunt, I chanced upon the SPS recruitment website and was intrigued by the 'Captains of Lives' tagline."
"14 years on, I am still on this journey to help offenders see the good in themselves and motivate them to make a positive change for themselves and their loved ones."
Jing Jie proudly showed us the original Home Team Diploma Sponsorship brochure which he has kept with him since 2014 that marked his first step. "I have always had this inclination towards having a uniformed career, and the brochure sparked my interest."
SPS stood out to him as a place to make a difference. "The thought of becoming part of the 'Captains of Lives' and having a role to play in the rehabilitation of inmates, influencing them in renewing their family bonds, resonated with me. I applied and was thankfully awarded the sponsorship - that kickstarted my journey with SPS."
Jing Jie later went on to also pursue a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Criminology and Security, University of Liverpool, under the MHA Degree Scholarship.
Today, Jing Jie is a Correctional Unit Officer who ensures that daily operations run smoothly and upholds safe and secure custody of the offenders under his care.
Jing Jie and his fellow officers are role models and mentors for the inmates and guide them towards a crime-free life. While still new to the service, the officer has already facilitated multi-session classes for offenders that aim to improve offenders' motivation to change.
For him, this is not a task but a responsibility. "If the rehabilitation efforts are falling short, then how can we expect our offenders to be motivated to change?" asked Jing Jie rhetorically.
"The importance of role models in rehabilitation work should not be discounted, therefore it is essential to set a good example to allow positive social learning for offenders."
Beyond trainings to equip officers with the required skillsets, SPS's system of job rotation and advancement has produced capable staff such as Yeow Nam. Besides performing his foundational post as a Correctional Unit Officer, Yeow Nam had the opportunity to be deployed to a staff role where he was involved in administrative, training, welfare as well as personnel matters, prior to his scholarship.
The officer was quick to assure us that SPS provides opportunities for all kinds of careers. "There are many opportunities for prison officers and civilian personnel working in SPS. If you have the 'can-do' spirit, there are possibilities in every posting and every assignment."
"In fact, there is a multitude of operational and staff units for officers to excel in based on their interests, talents, and skillsets. For example, investigative skills, IT skills, communications, operations, intelligence, counselling, and auditing, to name a few."
Sign up for BrightMinds Now
Further Learning With SPS
Aside from work, SPS has afforded Yeow Nam another opportunity. He is currently studying for his bachelor's degree under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Scholarship and is looking forward to putting his knowledge to good use in his career.
"One of the key learning points I took away from my studies is to look at issues or situations from different perspectives," he outlined. "In the SPS context, we look at issues from the perspectives of many people: the inmate, the inmates' family members, volunteers, counsellors, prison officers, SPS management, members of public, and even vendors."
"By looking at various and diverse perspectives, we can plan and evaluate rehabilitative programmes or activities that would address different needs and benefit the most people."
Even before taking up further studies, the self-motivated learner was already making use of all the resources SPS has to offer.
Officers will attend milestone training programmes as they progress up the ranks, can enrol in online courses offered by the Civil Service College or external vendors to upskill under the Learning and Development Scheme (LDS). SPS also routinely conduct dialogue sessions with officers to check in on their studies and how they are progressing. Finally, work attachments during semester breaks deploy officers to various HQ units to enhance their knowledge about the functions of different units within SPS.
His achievements were recognised in receiving the Outstanding Captains of Lives award in 2020.
"This was also one of the motivating factors for me to pursue further studies: to upgrade my knowledge and skills so that I can better contribute to the objectives of SPS."
When it came to the question of recommending the organisation to others, both Jing Jie and Yeow Nam agreed– SPS is a meaningful and sustainable career with growth opportunities aplenty.
"If you are looking for a challenging and fulfilling career which allows you to have a direct role in the rehabilitation of our offenders and thus making Singapore safer, SPS is it," said Jing Jie.
Yeow Nam added: "SPS is where you can experience good leadership, effective communication with top-down and bottom-up approaches, personal development, employee engagement and positive company culture."