Section 2 Enhancement of Treatment concerning Serious Offenses

(1) Importance of treatment of young offenders

The number of serious offenders with previous convictions was larger when compared to offenders of non-traffic penal code offenses (See Fig. 7-1-1-13). Examining the age at the time of their first conviction of those with previous convictions reveals the percentage of those with a first conviction at age 20-24 to be high (See Fig. 7-2-3-2-9). Classifying those with previous convictions (regardless of whether they subsequently committed offenses or not) by age at first conviction reveals, in general, the number to be larger with those who had a first conviction at a younger age. Even after taking this into consideration the percentage of those with previous convictions who had their first conviction at an age of 20-24 was extremely high with robbery, homicide, and rape. This then indicates that, even of those with previous convictions, those who had a previous conviction at a younger age were with a greater risk of committing a serious offense such as robbery, etc. In addition, the percentage of those with a large number of previous convictions was naturally higher among serious offenders with a first conviction at an age of 20-24 than other previously convicted persons. Even after taking this into consideration, the percentage of those with six or more previous convictions was still remarkably high (See Fig. 7-2-3-2-10 [1]), thus suggesting that many of those with previous convictions at a younger age subsequently repeated offenses, eventually committed serious offenses.

The repeat offense rate of serious offenders with a first conviction at an age of 20-24 was also high (See Fig. 7-2-3-2-10 [2]), with the same holding true for serious offenders with a history of protective measures as juveniles (See Fig. 7-2-3-2-12).

Taking the above into consideration leads to the importance of the treatment of young offenders needing to be again emphasized, although already mentioned in previous editions of White Papers on Crime. Young offenders are still sufficiently plastic and their environment can easily be adjusted to ensure their social reintegration. Appropriately implementing treatment to correct their criminal tendencies and forestalling repeat offenses at the earliest stage possible is therefore considered to be effective in thereby preventing the occurrence of serious offenses.

(2) Enhancement of treatment to correct problems of serious offenders

Serious offenders generally have significant dispositional problems as they often markedly lack moral awareness, such as awareness of the need to respect the lives and bodies of others, and typically are unaware of the significance of the damage they caused their victims, etc. Implementing treatment that eliminates/corrects those problems is therefore extremely essential in facilitating the reformation/rehabilitation of serious offenders.

As described in Chapter 3 at present guidance based on “education from the victims' point of view,” an “atonement guidance program,” a “violence prevention program,” “guidance for prevention of repeat offense for sexual offenders,” and “sexual offender treatment programs,” etc. is being implemented at the correctional and rehabilitation stages as part of their treatment. This treatment has only recently been commenced and therefore needs to be enhanced/improved after having verified its effect. Furthermore, some serious offenders had an alcohol problem as the background, and some others committed injury causing death, etc. resulting from domestic violence. Treatment programs to correct the habit of drinking and to prevent domestic violence therefore also need to be developed through utilizing specialized psychological, etc. knowledge.

In addition, offenses being committed by Boryokudan members, etc. still remain a significant issue with the maintenance of public security as the percentage of Boryokudan members, etc. was high among those that committed homicide or injury causing death, and therefore the roles of guidance for withdrawal from Boryokudan (See (2) of Subsection 3, Section 3, Chapter 4, Part 2) and categorized treatment for those classified as being “associated with Boryokudan” (See (3) b. of Subsection 2, Section 2, Chapter 5, Part 2) are also important.

(3) Enhancement of support measures for social reintegration

The treatment of serious offenders needs to involve correcting their dispositional problems being considered the most important but with securing a living foundation of a residence and employment also being very important in facilitating their social reintegration and preventing them from repeating offenses.

However, many serious offenders get imprisoned for a long time and therefore face difficulty gaining employment. In addition, they may not be able to return to their families due to the feeling toward them of their families having been negatively altered or due to aging, etc. in some cases, thus making their social reintegration even more difficult. This is typically observed with short-term repeat offenders. As described in (2) of Subsection 3, Section 3, Chapter 2, some serious offenders repeated property offenses within the extremely short-term of one month of being released from a penal institution because they were hard pressed for a living due to having no residence and job or repeated injury, etc. for the purpose of returning to a penal institution. The number of these short-term repeat offenders was not very large, but some of them repeated offenses within a short time of being released and eventually committed serious offenses. This issue therefore cannot be neglected.

As described above, serious offenders can face difficulty in their social reintegration, thus making more enhanced and effective measures necessary in securing a living foundation for them. From this point of view enhancing vocational training for inmates and employment support guidance being implemented as special guidance for their reform and more effectively implementing comprehensive employment support measures for released inmates, etc. that are implemented in cooperation between the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (See (6) of Subsection 2, Section 3, Chapter 4, Part 2 and (5) of Subsection 2, Section 2, Chapter 5, Part 2) thorough utilizing the know-how of the private sector for securing their post-release employment are considered extremely important. In addition, enhancement of environmental adjustments (See (1) of Subsection 3, Section 1, Chapter 3) and urgent aftercare of discharged offenders (See Subsection 1, Section 3, Chapter 5, Part 2) are also issues. Ensuring that these measures appropriately function, however, requires social cooperation, including larger number of acceptance of inmates who have no one to rely on at halfway houses and securing more cooperative employers, etc., and thus enhancing these efforts is also considered desirable. Furthermore, environmental adjustments that enable elderly or disabled persons that face difficulty in becoming self-sufficient and have no residence to be admitted to social welfare institutions have been implemented at probation offices since FY 2009 (See Section 1, Chapter 5, Part 2), but improving them even more still remains an issue.

(4) Necessity of appropriate community-based treatment

The cumulative percentage of reimprisonments within 10 years of serious offenders released on parole was remarkably low when compared to that of those released on completion of their term of imprisonment with every type of offense (See Fig. 7-1-3-3). In addition, examining the repeat offense status of research subjects that had committed robbery but were released on parole for a period of parole supervision reveals the repeat offense rate to be higher among those with shorter parole supervision periods (See Fig. 7-2-3-2-18). Almost the same trend can also be observed with offenses other than robbery.

This then suggests that the risk of a repeat offense was accurately evaluated when parole was granted and the parole supervision of parolees was appropriately functioning in preventing repeat offenses. However, those with a high risk of repeating offenses who are not granted parole or are granted short-term parole should be regarded as requiring more guidance, supervision, and rehabilitation assistance, thus making discussion of measures for them also is considered necessary.

(5) Facilitating public understanding and cooperation

As described in (3) social cooperation is essential in facilitating the social reintegration of offenders, including serious offenders.

According to the results of a public opinion poll on basic legislation conducted by the Cabinet Office in December, 2009, the importance of the rehabilitation system was understood by slightly less than 70% of the public but the number of those that answered “No” (51%) to the question “Would you be willing to cooperate in activities that support offenders in their recovery and prevent them from repeating offenses” exceeded that of those that answered “Yes” (42%), thus indicating the difficulty of obtaining concrete public cooperation in the social reintegration of offenders.

In addition to making constant efforts to achieve effective treatment for offenders explaining the actual situation with treatment in an easy to understand manner is thus required in obtaining further public understanding/cooperation in the social reintegration of serious offenders.