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2 Volunteer probation officer stories(1) Overview
This subsection deals with the results of interviews with volunteer probation officers about the conditions, etc., for effective reformation/rehabilitation of theft/stimulants offenders through supervision. All of the interviewees had rich experience in probation/parole supervision cases.
Interviews were conducted with 20 volunteer probation officers, each with about 10 years of experience working in the jurisdictions of probation offices in Chiba, Yokohama, Maebashi, and Nagano.
a. Conditions needed for rehabilitation
Most volunteer probation officers listed “stable education/employment” and “improved relationships with families/friends/acquaintances” as necessary in the reformation/rehabilitation of probationers/parolees. They expressed their understanding of theft and stimulants offenders, in terms such as “establishing a stable financial basis for theft offenders and ceasing to associate with delinquent peers for stimulants offenders are necessary,” and “employment leads to financial stability for theft offenders and mental stability for stimulants offenders.”
They also pointed out that being sensitive to even small changes in offenders and taking appropriate measures to deal with such changes, cultivating a sense of guilt, and reducing any stress resulting from relationships with others, are important in facilitating the reformation/rehabilitation of probationers/parolees.
In addition, many officers pointed out that addressing clues to offenses and delinquencies at an early stage is important in order to prevent repeat offenses, with some expressing the view that lenient initial dispositions may actually encourage repeat offenses. Many also pointed out that cooperation with the relevant agencies is necessary in preventing repeat offenses and listed hospitals specializing in treatment for drug addiction, relevant welfare agencies, supportive employers, schools, etc. as cooperative partners in practice.
b. Changes in environment surrounding probationers/parolees and their families
Volunteer probation officers were also asked about their understanding of the changes that took place in the attitudes of offenders / juvenile delinquents and their families, their family environments, and wider social environments.
First, regarding the change in attitudes of probationers/parolees and their families, officers pointed out that “they used to ‘feel ashamed’ or ‘feel small’ for having been placed under probation/parole supervision but they seem rather indifferent about it now.” Conversely, the observation was also made that “they now seem to be very worried about what others would think of them and tend to hide family matters from volunteer probation officers.”
With regard to family environments, many pointed out the problem of offenders / juvenile delinquents losing the leadership of their parents and having family ties weakened. Comments in this regard included “the number of two parent families is decreasing and the number of families in which both the parents work is increasing, and hence it is becoming hard to keep an eye on children,” “parents do not understand their role,” “both probationers/parolees and their parents are taking things too easy nowadays,” “the number of cases in which the mother is too permissive and the fathers unconcerned is increasing,” “in many cases the relationship between parents and children is becoming more like that between friends and many parents just don’t know what to do when children become delinquents,” “fathers have less presence than before,” “many parents today have problems themselves such as with drug use and domestic violence (DV), etc.,” “family bonds are weakening,” and “many children feel uncomfortable at home.” These perceptions informed comments such as “during probation/parole supervision it is necessary to solve problems by actively approaching not only the probationers/parolees themselves but also their families, etc.”
Changes in local communities were also seen to have taken place, with comments made such as “adults in the neighborhood nowadays are incapable of giving advice to children” and “people tend to be less concerned about others and have become rather selfish.” Some expressed opinions such as “people are currently interested in improving local communities more and more, and many volunteer groups for crime prevention are being organized.”