Go to jail in Singapore, do not pass GO, toothpaste turns your teeth green

by hexacoto

Singapore has long had a squeaky-clean image: no litter on the streets, certainly no gum problem, etc. But what lies beneath this veneer of sterile spotlessness? A Singaporean blurgtheamoeba shares with us what it was like to have gone through the Singapore jail system.

Thank you for you kind wishes. When i was younger, 90s, weed was very easy to get. I still think it is, but for obvious reasons, i stay away. Most of the people i know who i could get some from are, funnily enough, expats. In the 90s it was dirt cheap. I could get 10 grams for 50 bucks. I don’t know the prices now. I moved from sg in 2000.

Jail was terrible. In remand, our water source was the toilet bowl. The shavers are blunt and used, unless you have gang connections to get fresh ones. The tooth paste turns your teeth green. The soap is not soap, you can find piece of cardboard/plastic in it. We used our fingernails to clean ourselves. (Of course once you start a job in there ((pays like three bucks a week)) you can pool money to by normal soap and paste.) Everything can lead to a fight, from where you sleep, to how you stand/sit. I’d never been in a fight in my life and come from an educated family. It was a massive cultureshock. Racial segregation was weird too. Lottsa violence. You keep quiet and keep your head down and serve your time, basically.

I got lucky at the end. I didn’t have any family here so i couldnt get out on tagging. But the principal of the prison school overheard my story when i was being interviewed to be moved to a halfway house and he got me transferred to KBC where i taught English to the O/A level students till my release. But even there, a week before my release, some inmate lied and told them i received smuggled drugs ( you cant get anything in there. not even a toothpick), and they threw me into Personal Confinement while the investigations were carried out. 6 days in the dark, alone, with 15 mins outside every morning to wash yourself and the bucket you shit/piss in. Fuck that place.

In a nutshell, things are safe on the streets, because all the violent people are in there. And a lot of kids. Mostly malay kids for minor drug cases, who turn into gangsters. It’s a viscous viscious cycle.

I will never touch drugs here because i dont ever want to end up there again. The next time my sentence will be doubled, and I know i wouldnt be able to survive that.

Originally posted here.

Continuing further, he comments on forced sexual encounters in prision:

Yes there are, on the second night i woke up to find a guy masrtubating while looking at me. I pretended to not notice and go back to sleep and, thankfully he was transferred out. Three days later, he was raped in a cell . I guess he did the same to some other guy. The only other one i personally witnessed was when a tranny joined my cell at AWP. !st day in the shower guys approached him aggressively, but he turned straight to the “big gangster” and performed “services” for him on the spot. After that. He was the gangster’s property and noone else touched him. I slept on the other side of them in a big cell with about 20 of sleeping side by side on the floor and made it my business to not get involved with things that were beyond my ability to handle.

How many Singaporeans, living a life where they walk free, know of what it’s like for those incarcerated? Some of the Singaporean commenters expressed having their eyes opened at this facet of Singapore often ignored or not talked about.

He adds that this was a long time ago, and that prison facilities have changed very much since then.

Changi is a modern facility. I can’t imagine people drinking water from the toilet bowl there, for example.

I think what’s scariest is that for many of these guys, they can survive inside but not in the outside world. So its easy to reoffend. Who wants to hire an ex con? not many people, especially if said excon has spent most of his life in an out of jail. Viscious cycle.

I am lucky i have specialized skills (writer/musician). I am a freelancer who can make ends meet. Most ex-cons dont.

Singapore is notorious for its caning corporal punishments. For those who are curious as to who gets caned, blurgtheamoeba adds:

Nah. For vandalism yes. For domestic violence too. For drug cases, only traffickers. For a few others as well, though im not sure of them all. Not for possession/consumption. Because it’s a minority thing, it actually becomes counter productive. Guys who come back from being caned, to them it’s a badge of honor. Like a rite of passage.

Brutal though. they can’t sit down for days. The flesh has been flayed off and the wounds are very deep.

I do remember when we were in fourth or fifth grade, we got to go on a school trip to our prisons, where they showed us the facilities (concrete, bleak, grimy), the caning apparatus (an A-frame, assortment of giant canes), and had a ‘model’ inmate telling us what crimes he committed and how we, impressionable fourth/fifth graders should never commit crimes and stay out of jail.

I think that “National Education” trip was probably sufficient to traumatise many a child away from the path of law-breaking, given our harsh laws and seeing our low crime rate.

For those curious as to how long blurgtheamoeba’s sentence was:

18mths, possession + consumption + paraphernalia (a friggin cigarette roller). Physically a year. You get a third off automatically and they can add days within that period for fighting/etc.

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