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1 Probationer/parolee stories(1) Overview
This subsection describes the results of interviews with probationers/parolees (including those who had their probation/parole terminated) about the factors that lead to their reformation/rehabilitation, etc.
The stories were heard between January 2008 and June 2009 from 13 individuals selected from among probationers/parolees for theft and stimulants who had been received by probation offices in Tokyo, Niigata, and Kofu. All of these individuals had completed or almost completed their probation/parole supervision periods, were considered to have undergone effective probation/parole supervision in having complied with the conditions for probation/parole supervision, and were living stable lives during that period and gave their consent to the interview.
The breakdown of the subjects is as follows. The number of probationers was eight (five theft offenders, three stimulants offenders). Of them seven had been granted provisional discharge from probation and one had completed probation. The number of parolees was five (two theft offenders, three stimulants offenders). Of them two were on parole and three had recently completed parole. One of the parolees for theft was female while the rest were all males.
(2) Theft offenders
 Being employed using qualifications, etc. obtained during imprisonment and living a stable life
(Female in her 50s, 11 months after being released on parole)
Case: The subject’s husband had lost the motivation to work and the family was pressed to make a living. The subject stole a bankbook from an acquaintance’s house. After committing similar offenses several times she was arrested but granted suspension of execution of the sentence. However, their hardship continued and she repeated a similar offense.
Current status: After being released on parole she gained employment at a nursing home using a qualification she obtained during imprisonment. She is now fully involved with this work and doing her housework.
“I was given the opportunity to obtain a qualification to become a care attendant during my imprisonment. I also took a PC class and became capable of simple PC operations. These skills really helped me with my employment situation after being released.”
 Raised motivation to rehabilitate himself through the experience of recognition by others
(Male in his 30s, eight months after being released on parole, one month after completion of the term of imprisonment)
Case: The subject fell into financial hardship because he helped a colleague to repay a debt, and then joined a burglary theft group after being tempted to do so by an acquaintance. Although he left the group when that accomplice was arrested and subsequently imprisoned, he was re-tempted by the accomplice after the accomplice was released, and committed theft on several occasions.
Current status: After being released on parole he has been living with his mother. He worked at a restaurant and in the transportation business as a part-time worker, but is now employed by a major enterprise.
“I had a sense of being recognized as worthwhile after being selected as a member of a model factory. This encouraged me to work hard.”
 Determination to rehabilitate himself after a temporary separation from family due to detention
(Male in his 20s, granted suspension of execution of the sentence with probation for four years, three years and five months after the final judgment)
Case: The subject was repeatedly involved in shoplifting as if it was a game, and had joined a hot rodder group. From around the age of 20 he had repeatedly engaged in burglary theft with bad company in order to obtain money for gambling and other amusements.
Current status: After commencement of the probation he began helping at his mother-in-law’s work for a while, then found a job at a public employment security office, and is now working quite diligently.
“Although I was working at the time of the offense, I stole because I had no money for amusement expenses. I was shocked when my two-year-old son came to see me while I was being detained and had forgotten who I was. I then felt very strongly that I needed to avoid ever being imprisoned in a penal institution, and was determined to rehabilitate myself.”
 A good work environment
(Male in his 40s, granted suspension of execution of the sentence with probation for four years, three years and six months after the final judgment)
Case: As a result of being absorbed in playing pachinko and consequently falling deeply into debt, the subject’s wife divorced him and he had to sell their house. He was hard pressed for living expenses and committed burglary theft repeatedly while living in a car.
Current status: He lived in a halfway house at the beginning of his probation, but then found a job and started renting a room with the help of his employer. He has completely given up playing pachinko.
“I am happy to be working at a suitable workplace. I really realized that having work is very important in rehabilitation. I considered it natural that anyone who had committed an offense would be shunned by the public. But, I believe that the existence of someone like my current employer who is caring can make you feel a better person and raise your motivation to work even harder.”
 Rehabilitative factors
The above stories reinforced the fact that being employed and living a stable life, having a good workplace, and having the understanding of others contribute significantly to the rehabilitation of offenders.
With regard to employment, many subjects stated that they regarded work not just as a means of making an income but also a means of making one’s life more complete, as demonstrated by comments such as “the existence of an employer who is caring can make you feel a better person and raise your motivation to work even harder” and “if you are enjoying a work-centric life there will be no need to gamble.” For anyone who has found it easier, so to speak, to obtain income through theft rather than working diligently and living a stable life, it is important that work provides not just an income but happiness and pleasure too.
In addition, when talking about support from people around them such as their families, all the subjects expressed their gratitude to the understanding and cooperative persons who provided mental and spiritual support. This was expressed in comments such as “my father appeared at the trial as a witness and declared that he would take charge and care of me,” “I owe my stable life today to my family,” “I was divorced after the case but my family, including my older brother, still supported me,” “I feel that I must get myself together again for the sake of my husband and daughter who visited me at the penal institution,” and “my friends helped me a lot.” Once again the existence of someone to provide mental support is of great importance in rehabilitation.
 Effectiveness of criminal disposition
Subjects were questioned on how they felt about the effectiveness of criminal dispositions.
Many of the subjects were positive about it, providing comments such as “I have been careful because I am currently on suspended execution of the sentence,” “I have taken probation seriously in putting an end to the matter,” and “I gain psychological comfort from my meetings with volunteer probation officer.” They were also positive about their treatment in penal institutions, expressed in terms such as “the skills and qualifications I obtained during imprisonment were useful in being employed after release” and “the experience of being acknowledged by others during imprisonment helped improve my self-image,” although some did have comments such as: “It was difficult for me to live together with the other inmates and stay motivated to be rehabilitated. A lack of willpower can be an obstruction to your rehabilitation as you may get affected by other inmates who lack motivation.”
In addition, some stated that in their experience, treatment at an early stage before ones’ criminal tendencies became advanced was the most effective. Comments in this regard included: “I think it is important not to overlook even simple shoplifting cases and instead arrest and impose a severe penalty on offenders. Although ordinary people may shoplift, whether they stop or not depends on whether they will have a dreadful experience after doing so. If they do not suffer right at the beginning, their acts could escalate.”
 Measures to prevent repeat offenses
Subjects here were requested for their opinions on assistance and measures they consider useful in preventing repeat offenses. The responses confirmed the real need for employment support and welfare assistance, with quite a few of the subjects stating opinions such as: “Some people have problems communicating with others and can face difficulties in job-seeking activities. It could be quite effective to have some kind of supporter accompanying them on job-seeking activities and providing advice”; “It would be useful to have a system in which a wide range of job vacancy information can be easily accessed”; “Some people could be quite hard pressed for living expenses until payday even if they are employed immediately after being released. It would be useful to have some kind of system to provide assistance in such cases”; and “Many inmates do not know how to apply for welfare aid. It is important to provide guidance on applying for welfare aid after release.”
(3) Stimulants offenses
 Successful escape from a life of constant stimulants use with detention
(Male in his 30s, granted suspension of execution of the sentence with probation for five years, three years and 10 months after the final judgment)
Case: The subject first used stimulants at about age 20 when encouraged to do so by a colleague, and then starting using them almost daily. He temporarily ceased use upon hallucinating but then relapsed when he saw someone else using them. He then repeated the same pattern over and over again.
Current status: At the start of probation he was working away from his hometown because of a job introduction from a former employer. However, he had to leave his child with the former employer and the child then became mentally unstable, so he returned to his hometown and was reinstated there. He now lives with his child.
“Stimulants had become part of my life, and physically I felt bad as I vomited up a lot of blood just before being arrested. So I was actually relieved when I was arrested. The stimulants had been flushed from my body after three months of detention, and I was able to stop using them without much difficulty. I no longer want to use stimulants because I do not want betray my child, my employer, and the volunteer probation officer that supervises me. I do not want my colleagues at work to think I’m a fool, and I do not want to change the current rhythm of my life.”
 Realizing the value of family after being imprisoned, and being motivated to rehabilitate himself
(Male in his 30s, 10 months after being released on parole, one month after completion of the term of imprisonment)
Case: The subject first started using stimulants when encouraged to do so by a colleague. He had been sentenced to imprisonment with suspension of execution of the sentence, but after completion of the term of the suspension of execution of the sentence he was tempted by a friend and started using stimulants again. This led to his subsequent sentencing to imprisonment without suspension of execution of the sentence.
Current status: He is living with his four-year-old daughter at his parents’ home. He has been making efforts to rehabilitate himself by regularly visiting a probation office and also taking a quick drug screen test.
“My parents have accepted me again after having been betrayed by me twice. My daughter is growing up healthily too. I feel that I must rehabilitate myself this time by ceasing to use stimulants for good.”
 Motivation to stop using stimulants raised by the expectation of an employer
(Male in his 30s, one year and five months after being released on parole, two months after completion of the term of imprisonment)
Case: The subject first used stimulants in his mid-20s, and then continued to use them intermittently until being sentenced to imprisonment with suspension of execution of the sentence at around age 30. Two years later he started using stimulants again and was sentenced to imprisonment without suspension of execution of the sentence.
Current status: After being released, he lived with his mother at her home and was reinstated by a former employer.
“At the time I was imprisoned I thought I was finished but my employer visited and encouraged me. I realized then that my employer expected more of me than I had thought. I decided that I would work hard and display some leadership at my workplace after release.”
 Factors for a stable life
It can be observed that employment is an important factor in the reformation/rehabilitation of stimulants offenders too. Some stated that being employed and leading a regular life prevented them from using stimulants to kill time, while others stated that their resistance to taking stimulants grew as people at their workplaces placed higher expectations on them, prompting them to resolve not to lose the place where they felt comfortable.
In addition, many stated that the fear of losing a good relationship with their families and the persons around them was a motivation in ceasing to use stimulants, stating, for example that “I will not use stimulants again as I strongly feel that I no longer want to betray my family and make them cry.” It was also observed that their relationships with the people around them supported them in their rehabilitation. Quite a few made statements such as: “The people around me are worrying about me and providing support when I try to stop. This allows me to make my best effort as I don’t want to betray them.”
However, although bad relationships with friends/acquaintances were a cause in the stimulants use of many subjects, it could be observed that maintaining positive connections with others is important in rehabilitation. Many subjects listed improving their relationships with friends/acquaintances as being necessary to prevent them restarting their use of stimulants, for example: “That I was able to stop using stimulants was largely due to the fact that the people around me were not using drugs”; “As I am now away from where I used to live when I was using stimulants and my relationships with my friends/acquaintances have changed, I want to live without using stimulants anymore.”
 Effectiveness of criminal dispositions
Some of the subject stimulants offenders stated that the criminal disposition process itself effectively prevents repeat offenses, for example: “The hard life at a penal institution and the awareness of being on parole are both parts of the reason I stopped using stimulants.” However, many also stated that their own will to stop using stimulants was the decisive factor, for example: “Anyone with the desire to use stimulants will end up using them again, even if they have received a disposition or guidance”; “When I had no willpower to stop using stimulants I could not stop using them even if my parents asked me to stop them crying. Earnestly wanting to stop using them enabled me to do so.” This confirms that effective guidance for motivating stimulants offenders to stop using stimulants is important in preventing their repeat offenses.
With regard to urine tests (quick drug screen testing), there were a few complaints regarding the heavy burden imposed by them, for example, “It was not easy as I had to take a day off every month and the transportation expenses were rather expensive because the probation office was quite far away.” However, many subjects also regarded them positively, as shown in statements such as: “Getting negative results made me happy as I realized that I could really stop using them and it encouraged me”; and “Showing negative results to my family eased their concerns and I also felt good about there being no doubt that I had stopped. It could be useful to continue taking the tests after completion of probation/parole supervision.”