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2. Volunteer probation officers and their organizations
Volunteer probation officers, nongovernmental volunteers commissioned by the Minister of Justice, are assigned to any one of the 903 probation districts that exist across the country (as of April 1, 2001) and are engaged in activities by making use of their status as community and nongovernmental volunteers. Volunteer probation officers have the mission of supporting the reform and rehabilitation of those who have committed crimes, help to establish a community without crime and delinquency by striving to enlighten public opinion towards crime prevention, and thereby contributing to individual and public welfare. Volunteer probation officers should meet prescribed requirements. For example, their character and behavior must be socially respected, and they must have the necessary enthusiasm and surplus of time to perform their duties. They must also keep the confidentiality of all parties concerned. Volunteer probation officers are not paid a salary, but receive reimbursement for all or part of the costs arising in the course of their duties. With a view to improving their ability to treat offenders, probation offices conduct various forms of training on a regular and planned basis.
The Volunteer Probation Officer Law stipulates that the number of volunteer probation officers should not exceed 52,500. As of January 1,2001, there were 48,760 officers (Source:Rehabilitation Bureau, Ministry of Justice).
As their organizations, there are volunteer probation officers associations in each probation district, federations of such associations in each prefecture (except in Hokkaido, where they are based on districts determined by the Ministry of Justice) and in each jurisdiction area of Regional Parole Boards, as well as a national federation.
These volunteer probation officers organizations play an important role in carrying out the following activities:designing plans for crime prevention activities and activities to promote development of social resources;promoting liaison and cooperation regarding the duties of volunteer probation officers (for example, providing volunteer probation officers with information useful for treating offenders, promoting cooperation among volunteer probation officers, liaising and cooperating with related organizations and associations including local governments, etc. );collecting the data and information necessary for volunteer probation officers to perform their duties;carrying out study regarding the duties of volunteer probation officers and presenting opinions;managing training for volunteer probation officers;carrying out public relations concerning volunteer probation officers and their associations;and promoting recruitment of volunteer probation officers.