Sunday, September 18, 2011

Are lawyers excluded from Yellow Ribbon Project?

The Yellow Ribbon Project was started in 2004 to help ex-offenders re-integrate into society.

Its annual flagship event, the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run, around the populated Changi Prison complex will begin in a few hours.

I participated in the run some years back. I also tried to volunteer for the initiative some years ago. I was very excited that such an initiative existed. My enthusiasm has, however, been short-lived.

For various reasons, over the years, I have come away with the impression that there is a conscious attempt to exclude lawyers from this wonderful initiative.

I would certainly like to hope my impression is inaccurate but the information publicly available presently indicates otherwise.

No law association – whether the Law Society of Singapore, Association of Criminal Lawyers or Singapore Academy of Law – is publicly involved in the organising of the event, or even in partnering it.

No legal professional sits on the various committees administering the Yellow Ribbon Fund.

The featured employers and volunteers of the Yellow Ribbon Project do not include any person from the legal sector.

I found all these circumstances rather odd since lawyers play an integral role in our criminal justice system. This responsibility certainly extends to the rehabilitation of such offenders and giving them second innings.

It has been over 5 years since this initiative started. It is time the Yellow Ribbon Project involves lawyers, especially those from the criminal bar, more prominently.

I still support the Yellow Ribbon Project.

Dharmendra Yadav

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