How did my journey with Sameer begin?
Sameer*, 22, a youth offender serving his sentence in the Changi Prison, was sitting alone in the
room. Tattoos covered almost his entire body. He was waiting to meet me, his ‘My Journey’
facilitator. Upon entering the room, I smiled and shook his hand. After ten minutes into our
conversation, he suddenly asked, “What do you think of me?” He paused, concerned if I was affected
by his tattoos.
Sensing his discomfort, I replied in a light-hearted tone, “Hey Sameer, I am fine with your tattoos. I
am happy to see you today. I’d like to introduce to you this new program called My Journey.” He
then nodded his head and began to feel more at ease with me. At that time, I had no inkling that his
tattoos were not just merely modern decorative body art, but its designs and symbols were indicative
of his past journey with a secret society indulging in drugs and perpetrating violence.
Why was Sameer incarcerated?
Sameer was incarcerated for about two years for drug offences and violence. Early in his life at the
age of 17, he was hooked on drugs and soon became a drug addict. He also got himself involved in
gang related activities. One day while he was at home, he became violent after consuming some drugs
and ended up beating his mother, who later called the police. He also hit one of the police officers
when he came to arrest him.
How did Sameer repair harm and restore relationships?
By participating in the My Journey program, Sameer was given the space to talk about his feelings of
sadness, anger and shame for causing harm to his loved ones, particularly his mother. As the journey
progressed, he began to reflect on how he could restore his relationship and to rebuild trust with them.
After Sameer journeyed with me in this program for about two months, a restorative
conference/support circle was convened inside the prison.
On this important day of restitution, Sameer had the opportunity to have meaningful engagements
with his family members and people who had cared for him over the years. They included his
biological and adoptive families, a former school teacher, a befriender, a counsellor and prison staff.
As Sameer knelt before his loved ones and apologised to them, participants began to tear as they
could feel the sincerity expressed by Sameer to repair harm and restore relationships. The sight of
both mothers, biological and adoptive, hugging their son, forgiving and loving one other brought so
much comfort and encouragement to the group.
He then began to talk about how he would like to rebuild trust with those affected by his behaviours.
He listed some goals to achieve for the next six months, which included getting a job to support his
family, having a strategy to remain drug-free, taking up a hobby and volunteering in community work.
To help Sameer achieved his goals, participants would act as his community of care and started to
express their support by listing the kind of help they would like to provide him to ensure that he would
succeed in achieving his goals.
What made the My Journey program a meaningful outcome?
The My Journey program allowed a series of engagements between Sameer and people in his
community of care to process their feelings, provide closure on the past and provide their support for
Sameer to keep him on track. At LCCS, we advocate administering Restorative Practices (RP) among
inmates through the My Journey program. The program aims to break the cycle of hurt, restore
relationships and rebuild trust so that every inmate can avoid reoffending and be reintegrated into the
community as a responsible citizen who contributes to society and the nation.
Note: Client has given consent to this article. The name has been changed to protect the confidentiality of the client and family.
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