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5. Improvement in prison management,changes in the crime situation,and the Recommendation of the Council on Prison Administration Reform(early Heisei period-present time)
Taking these circumstances into consideration,the Ministry of Justice decided to take measures,if possible under the existing Prison Law,to cope with challenges made against the basic policies of prison management including the treatment of inmates,and sequentially implemented reforms in prison management since1990.Major reforms include:Circular on Health Care for Prison Inmates(1991);Ordinance on Duties of Prison Officers(1991);Ordinance on Procedures for Disciplinary Punishment(1992);Ordinance on Guidance Prior to Release(1994);Ordinance on Guidance and Training upon the Commencement of the Execution of Sentence(1994);Regulation on the Management of Inmates'Belongings(1997);and Regulation on Provision,Lease,and Purchase of Articles for Inmates(2002).
While such various reform measures were taken,the crime situation started to change around1995when Aum Shinrikyo cult members committed unprecedented offenses including the Sarin gas attacks in the Tokyo subway system.Since this year,the number of reported cases of non-traffic penal code offenses began to rise and Japanese people started to realize and point out the deterioration of public security.The number of reported cases of non-traffic penal code offenses hit post-war records for seven consecutive years from1996to2002.Along with this,prison population increased rapidly,and the occupancy rate of capacity for prisoners increased from79.0%in1995to surpass100%in2000,reaching116.6%as of the end of2003.
On the other hand,incidents were revealed in2002to2003in which the prison officers committed acts of violence against prisoners resulting in injury or death in the Nagoya Prison,seriously damaging public confidence in prison management.While the Ministry of Justice considered and designed measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents,the Council on Prison Administration Reform was established in March2003with experts appointed as members by the Minister of Justice.As of December22,2003,the Council made the Recommendation entitled" Toward Prisons with Public Understanding and Support. "
The Recommendation of the Council on Prison Administration Reform acknowledges the basic philosophy of correction that has always been pursued,i.e."confining prisoners in places isolated from society and depriving them of their freedom,with a view to their rehabilitation and smooth reintegration into society,"and states that"this philosophy should be maintained in the future prison management."In the Recommendation,the Council requires various reforms and improvements in prison management as a whole,from the perspective of(i)promoting true rehabilitation and reintegration into society of prisoners while respecting their human dignity,(ii)reducing excess burden of prison officers,and(iii)achieving prison management that are open to the public.Currently,the Ministry of Justice makes efforts to develop and implement necessary measures as directed by the Recommendation.