Singapore Prison Service

Singapore Punishes Drug Offenses More Severely Than Any Other Offenses

Singapore has always been known for taking drug-related crimes very seriously. However, the drastic difference in their treatment of drug offenses and other offenses leaves a lot to be questioned.

Punishment for bring drugs over is more serious than raping someone

How does this make any moral sense?

For example, the penalty for voyeurism is 1-5 years of prison, up to five years of probation, and as much as $5,000 in fines (although if you are from NUS and “have a bright future” you may get away scot free). On the other hand, possession or consumption of drugs can result in a maximum of 10 years in prison, with a possible fine of $20,000, as well as caning.

The penalty for rape is imprisonment for up to 20 years, and also a fine or caning. On the other end, the punishment for drug trafficking is the death penalty.

One kind of offense harms other people physically, the other one mainly affects yourself. Somehow Singapore decided that the second one is more serious.

More people are punished for drug offenses than other offenses

The proportions of people jailed for drug offenses is also so much greater than other offense groups. Is it because they let people off when they “seem to have a bright future” for other offenses? Is it that they are more willing to give second chances for other offenses?

Kirsten Han recently pointed out that the chart made by Singapore Prison Service showing the number of people jailed isn’t even proportionate. Were they trying to misrepresent facts? Or are they just seriously bad at graphs?

Drug offenses Kirsten Han tweet

Serious punishment doesn’t deter drug users

Drugs are usually their escape from a destroyed life. They could be struggling financially, or family disputes are plaguing them. In fact, the Ministry of Family and Social Development highlighted in 2021 that people with adverse childhood experiences were more likely to report alcohol and illicit substance use.

What we need is to address the issues that led drug users to use the drugs in the first place, not simply assign a serious punishment to drug use. These are issues that many other Singaporeans face as well.

It’s about time the government re-look into the way they assign punishment for the different crimes. How can a rapist get away while someone who was forced to trafficked drugs be put on the death row?