Getting Parole (Early Prison Release) in Singapore
What is a Conditional Remission Order (CRO)?
Under the Conditional Remission System (CRS), a Conditional Remission Order (CRO) may be issued to prisoners to be released earlier than their scheduled release date (i.e. released on parole).
An early release may be granted if a prisoner shows good conduct and behaviour while serving his sentence.
The CRO is an order from the Commissioner from Prisons with basic conditions that you must follow even though you are released from prison. Failing to do so will result in penalties imposed against you.
This is to discourage you from re-offending and to encourage you to reintegrate into Singapore’s society.
What are the basic conditions of a CRO?
When you are under the CRO, you are effectively released from prison.
You will however have to comply with the basic conditions of your CRO. This means that you must not:
- Commit any offence during your release; and
- Be sentenced to prison, corrective training, reformative training or preventive detention as a result of that offence.
Who is Eligible for a CRO?
Generally, the CRO applies to all regular prison inmates who were sentenced to prison. However, there are several instances where you are not entitled to a CRO. These include where:
- You have been sentenced to prison for not more than 14 days.
- Your prison sentence is made up of enhanced sentences. This can happen because you:
- Previously breached the basic condition of your CRO; and/or
- Committed a serious breach of a condition under a Mandatory Aftercare Order (MAO) of the Mandatory Aftercare Scheme (MAS).
- The MAS is an aftercare program structured to assist you in your rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
- The Commissioner for Prisons may require you to comply with the MAO in addition to the CRO if you have a higher risk of re-offending after your release from prison. For example, if you are a repeat offender of a serious offence, such as drug trafficking, and have been sentenced to more than 1 year’s jail for the current offence.
- Conditions of the MAO may include attending counselling, abiding curfew, turning up for hair or urine tests, or complying with any other activity to help you with your rehabilitation and reintegration into Singapore’s society.
- You committed a serious offence while serving your sentence. In this case, the President of Singapore may order the Commissioner of Prisons to either postpone granting you a CRO or to not grant you one at all.
- Your prison sentence is a default sentence. A “default sentence” comes about when you are sentenced to prison because you failed to pay a fine that you had been sentenced to.
- You have been sentenced to corrective training or preventive detention. In this case, you can be released “on licence” instead. This means that you are to comply with the conditions mentioned in the licence upon your release. Failing which, you can be recalled to prison.
- You have been sentenced to prison for life and have not served at least 20 years of your life sentence yet.
- Once you have served at least 20 years of your life sentence, your case will be reviewed by the Minister for Home Affairs, who will decide whether to grant you a CRO. If you are not issued a CRO the first time, your case will be reviewed at least once a year to see if you should be issued one.
You will be informed if your CRO is forfeited for any reason.
When is a CRO Made?
A CRO is made on the day after you have completed two-thirds of your consecutive prison sentence or after 14 days of your sentence, whichever ends later.
You would be imposed with a consecutive prison sentence when you have committed more than one offence, and the imprisonment term for each offence runs one after the other.
If your sentence was enhanced because you breached your previous CRO or committed a serious breach of a mandatory aftercare condition of your CRO, the subsequent CRO will be issued after you have completed the total of the enhanced sentence and two-thirds of the consecutive prison sentence, or after 14 days of your sentence (whichever ends later).
The time you have served in prison must be reckonable in order to count towards the two-third or 14-day duration requirement for issuing you a CRO. If the time you have served is not reckonable, this will be explained to you. Instances where your time in prison is not reckonable include where:
- One-third of any time you were confined in a punishment cell.
- One-third of any time you were in a hospital because of your own fault or malingering.
- Any period of remission that you had forfeited unless the Superintendent of Prisons restores your forfeited remission.
- Any period of deferment that was ordered by the President of Singapore because you had committed an offence while serving your sentence (as mentioned above).
How is a CRO Made? Can I Apply for it?
You will not be able to apply for a CRO. The issuing of the CRO is dependent on either the Commissioner for Prisons or the Minister for Home Affairs who will issue you a CRO based on your eligibility.
The CRO will be issued to you before you are released, and its contents will be explained to you to make sure that you understand it. Once you confirm that you understand it, you are required to sign and acknowledge the contents of the CRO before being released.
How Long is a CRO?
The CRO will last for a period of time equal to the remaining period of your sentence that you would have completed if you were still in prison. For example, if you are released after serving 6 months of a 9-month sentence, the CRO will last for the remaining 3 months.
The CRO will expire at the end of the remaining period of time unless extended.
Such extensions of the CRO may occur if, for instance, the Commissioner issues a notice for you to be recalled to prison on a specific date (1 January 2020) during your release, but you show up at a later date (31 January 2020). Your CRO will therefore be extended for the period of time you had delayed returning to prison (i.e. 30 days).
What Happens at the End of the CRO?
If you comply with your CRO, then the CRO will just expire at the end of the duration. You will not be recalled to prison.
If you breach your CRO, your sentence would be enhanced and the next CRO will be issued to you after you have completed your enhanced sentence and two-thirds of the consecutive prison sentence, or after 14 days of your sentence (whichever ends later).
If you are not sure about how a CRO works or whether you are entitled for a CRO, please feel free to get in touch with a criminal lawyer for legal advice on your specific situation.
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