More than 300 judges, prosecutors, lawyers, academics, enforcement officers and other stakeholders of the criminal justice system have gathered at the Supreme Court to discuss pertinent issues on the sentencing of offenders. The Sentencing Conference 2017 is held over two days between 26 and 27 October and is jointly organised by the State Courts and the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL). Participants at the Conference include speakers and delegates from the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Myanmar and Singapore.
2. Despite the common perception that sentencing is the end-point in the criminal justice process where the offender is punished for his offence, a fair and effective justice system must consider the rehabilitation and reintegration of an offender where there is hope for a future where he will not reoffend. This Conference provides an important discussion platform for stakeholders to raise issues and share perspectives and ideas on sentencing and beyond, and hence further enhance the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system.
Review, Rehabilitation and Reintegration
3. The theme of the Sentencing Conference 2017 is three-pronged: “Review, Rehabilitation and Reintegration” (refer to Annex A for background on the theme), and will feature distinguished local and international speakers who will explore the following topics over six sessions:
(Refer to Sentencing Conference 2017 Brochure for more information on the sessions and speaker profiles.)
4. “The range of sessions and speakers has been curated to provide participants with a holistic and updated overview of sentencing in Singapore, from broad principles and trends down to practical challenges in implementation,” said Ms Serene Wee, Chief Executive of SAL, “we are mindful that the practice of law is moving faster today than ever before and SAL is seeking to respond by drawing together thought leadership at events such as the Sentencing Conference 2017, to facilitate access to these quality resources in order to build up our legal industry.”
5. The State Courts deal with about 99% of Singapore’s criminal case load, and play an important role in shaping the applicable sentencing norms. Sentences meted out by the State Courts form a body of precedents which often provide the comparative basis on which sentencing benchmarks and guidelines are subsequently laid down by the High Court.
6. Presiding Judge of the State Courts, Justice See Kee Oon said, “Being responsive to the changing legal and social landscape is the hallmark of an effective justice system. The State Courts, through our Sentencing Committee, conduct regular reviews of the sentencing norms in light of new legislation and subsidiary legislation, guideline judgments laid down by the High Court and the Court of Appeal, and prevailing sentencing trends. The Sentencing Conference augments our efforts in this regard by providing an important platform for ideas and perspectives on sentencing to be discussed, so that our criminal justice system remains responsive and up-to-date.”
Issued by: State Courts of Singapore and Singapore Academy of Law
Date: 26 October 2017
(i) Annex A – Sentencing Conference 2017 Theme
(ii) Annex B – Community-Based Sentences and Rehabilitation Initiatives at State Courts
(iii) Sentencing Conference 2017 Programme Brochure
About the Sentencing Conference
The Sentencing Conference was first mooted in 2011 when greater potential was seen for a discussion that started out amongst various domestic stakeholders. The primary objective of the Conference series is to raise general awareness among judges, prosecutors, lawyers, law enforcement officers, academics and other stakeholders in the criminal justice system of sentencing issues and perspectives, which will provide the catalyst for further debate and study to enhance the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system. The first Sentencing Conference, themed “Trends, Tools and Technology”, was held in 2014 and saw more than 300 participants from across six countries. The Sentencing Conference 2017, themed “Review, Rehabilitation and Reintegration”, is the second in the series.
For further information or clarification, please contact:
State Courts Ms Marilyn Tan,
Assistant Director, Communications Directorate
Tel: 6435 5652 / 9722 6139
Ms Michelle Chiang.
Assistant Director, Communications Directorate
Tel: 6435 5179 / 9722 6139
Singapore Academy of Law
Ms Foo Kim Leng, Deputy Director, Corporate Communications
Tel: 6332 5365 / 9635 8850
Ms Alyssa Nyam,
Assistant Manager, Corporate Communications
Tel: 6332 5371 / 9773 2333
Sentencing Conference 2017 Theme
Sentencing is often a complex process involving myriad considerations. The final sentence for any person convicted of an offence is determined by the sentencing judge within the sentencing powers prescribed by legislation. Public policy and public interest considerations have to be weighed against the specific circumstances of the offence and of the individual offender. Due weight has to be accorded to the sentencing objectives of deterrence, retribution, prevention and rehabilitation. Various stakeholders through their work in law enforcement, prosecution, as defence counsel, and in other capacities, contribute factors for consideration that are distilled into the eventual sentence. (Refer to attached diagram for a summary of the Main Factors that Contribute to Sentencing.)
In the ever-changing environment we live in, regular reviews of our sentencing practices are imperative. Our penal laws undergo regular review in Parliament according to changing social norms. The sentencing norms of the courts must keep pace with such developments. Sentencing guidance is provided from time to time by the Sentencing Council of the Supreme Court and in the guideline judgments of the High Court and the Court of Appeal. The internal sentencing guidelines and benchmarks of the sentencing courts are constantly reviewed and updated by the Sentencing Committee of the State Courts. These help to facilitate consistency in sentencing.
Rehabilitation and Reintegration
While noting the other classical sentencing objects of retribution, deterrence and prevention, the focus of the Conference will be on rehabilitation, which seeks to address the underlying issues of criminality with the aim of reintegrating an ex-offender into mainstream society and to reduce their risk of reoffending. These are considerations that go beyond the sentencing process and encompass the post-sentencing phase.
Main Factors that Contribute to Sentencing
Community-Based Sentences and Rehabilitation Initiatives at State Courts
Community Based Sentencing (CBS) was implemented with effect from January 2011. The State Courts take a problem-solving approach when meting community-based sentences. They aim to address the root causes of criminality with the objective of rehabilitating offenders and reducing their chances of reoffending. Community-based sentences include Mandatory Treatment Orders, Community Service Orders, Day Reporting Orders, and Short Detention Orders.
In addition to community-based sentences, the State Courts also seek to address cases further upstream and downstream (before the cases are heard in court, and after the sentence has been meted) where appropriate, providing a holistic framework towards the rehabilitation of offenders.
Progress Accountability Court
The Progress Accountability Court (PAC) came into effect in September 2014 to reduce recidivism rates by having offenders take accountability for their own rehabilitation as they make positive changes in their lives. It provides post-sentencing support to offenders and for them to take ownership of their lives and personal responsibility for progress.
Under the PAC, as part of the sentencing order, an offender on probation could be required to attend progress reviews at stipulated intervals, with attendance by the case officers and family members. Under this framework, the PAC is able to monitor the offender’s progress, and reinforce his sense of ownership and personal responsibility towards rehabilitation.
Court Pre-Sentence Protocol
The Court-directed Pre-Sentencing Protocol (CPSP) was introduced in July 2016 to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to address underlying causes of offending behaviour for minor petty offences, such as theft and violence within the family context, which may have arisen from alcohol and other addictions.
Under the CPSP, offenders could be required to undergo treatment, receive counselling, or voluntarily undergo residential or structured programmes offered by voluntary welfare organisations before their case is heard. The aim of the CPSP is to give offenders an opportunity to address and resolve their underlying issues in order to achieve reformed behaviour. Those who are found suitable will be placed under the CPSP, and the sentencing of the offenders is deferred. The Courts will monitor the offender’s compliance for up to six months before deciding on the sentence to be imposed.
Click here (PDF, 595 KB) for the Sentencing Conference 2017 brochure