Showing the Way

This probation officer helps adult offenders to stay on the straight path and build up their lives again.

A probationer once described Ms Lim Jim Jim’s job as akin to that of a taxi driver.

“I told him, yes, I’m going on a journey with you,” recalls the probation officer of 16 years. “I’m here to guide you, but ultimately, you have to decide where you want to go.”

Ms Lim is a manager with the Probation Services Branch, Operations (Adults), of the Rehabilitation, Protection and Residential Services Division, Ministry of Social and Family Development.

She investigates cases and advises the Courts on the suitability of offenders to be placed on probation, which can range from six months to three years. Once the offenders are granted probation, Ms Lim works with them to put their lives back on track.

This requires meeting regularly to check if they are abiding by the conditions of their probation, which can include obeying a curfew and performing community service. She also visits their families to get support for the offenders to complete their probation.

This unsung hero’s work is one that requires a great deal of patience and perseverance. “Some will blame everyone else for their offence, while others may feel so guilty that they cannot forgive themselves or move on,” says the 42-year-old, who is married with two teenage daughters. “The challenge is to get them to acknowledge what they’ve done wrong and how they’ve affected other people, and help them to move on.”

To ensure successful rehabilitation, she also helps offenders work through a wide range of social and personal issues – unemployment, family disharmonies, isolation and mental problems – by often engaging the help of other social support agencies like the Community Development Councils.

While her work is tough and complex, Ms Lim finds reward in seeing lives change for the better. “Some of my former probationers have called me years later to tell me how they are doing well in life and holding good jobs … the satisfaction is when you know they have learnt their lesson and moved on.”

    Sep 19, 2013
    Jamie Ee
    John Heng
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