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Japan compiles 1st white paper on support measures for ex-cons

  • December 21, 2018
  • , Kyodo News , 11:44 a.m.
  • English Press

The Japanese government released Friday its first white paper introducing employment and housing support measures for former inmates to prevent them from reoffending.


Another document on crimes released by the Justice Ministry the same day showed the proportion of elderly former inmates returning to prison was notably high in 2017, with many facing unstable prospects outside jail with little support from their families and difficulty in landing jobs.


The white paper said employment support staffers have been dispatched to 77 criminal facilities and 45 juvenile correctional institutions across Japan in the current fiscal year. These support workers interview inmates to assess their willingness to work and vocational aptitude.


Together with the labor ministry, the Justice Ministry offered employment support to 7,794 people in the year ended March 2018, of whom 3,152 found work.


The ministry is also accepting former inmates and people on probation with no homes to go or no one to turn to at more than 100 relief and rehabilitation facilities. There they are offered shelter, meals and consultation services.


For elderly and disabled convicts, the ministry began implementing a program in the last fiscal year to support their return to society by collaborating with officials at local governments and welfare organizations.


The white paper was issued for the first time after the law to prevent ex-convicts from recommitting crimes took effect in December 2016. In the following year, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved a package of 115 recidivism prevention initiatives.


In the separate report, the Justice Ministry said the total number of elderly convicts aged 65 or older declined 8.8 percent from a year earlier to 2,278 in 2017, but the proportion of elderly former inmates returning to prison was high compared with younger generations.


For men who entered prison in 2017, the proportion of convicts behind bars for the sixth time or more accounted for 14.4 percent among those under 65 years old, but it stood at 42.5 percent among the elderly. For women, the proportion of younger convicts in that category was 3.4 percent against 11.5 percent among the older.


The report also showed the number of female prisoners aged 65 or older rose 2.8 percent to 373 in 2017 from a year earlier. Their ratio among all female inmates stood at 19.7 percent, the highest since 1995.


The number of female convicts aged 70 or older marked a 12.3-fold jump from 1998.


Many of the women convicts committed theft, with 80.6 percent of those aged 65 to 69 and 89.3 percent of those aged 70 or older convicted of the crime.


The report pointed to the unstable living conditions elderly people face outside prison. In 2017, 44 percent of men who were released from prison after completing their sentences said they would not be staying at their own or their relatives’ homes, nor at welfare facilities. The figure stood at 17 percent for women.

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