3 Correctional guidance

Guidance for reform and guidance through school courses make up the core of the treatment provided to inmates besides work. Guidance upon commencement of execution of the sentence and guidance prior to release are also provided, with these four types of guidance being collectively called correctional guidance.

(1) Guidance upon commencement of execution of the sentence

Inmates are provided with guidance on the meaning of and necessary mental attitude toward serving their sentences, the necessary matters regarding their correctional treatment (treatment systems, matters that require attention with the work they do, and the purpose/outline of the guidance for reform they receive), and the rules of daily activities, etc. in penal institutions for two weeks immediately after admission in principle.

(2) Guidance for reform

Guidance for reform aims to enable inmates to grow more aware of their responsibility for the offenses they committed, foster a sound mind and body, and to train them to acquire the knowledge and attitudes needed in adapting to a societal life. It includes both general and special guidance for reform.

General guidance for reform is provided through lectures, gymnastics, events, interviews, consultations and advice, along with other methods, and with the aim of helping inmates to [1] understand their victims’ feelings and realize a sense of remorse, [2] lead a regular life with a sound way of thinking, thereby promoting their own mental and physical health, and [3] prepare for returning to society by mapping out a new life while acquiring the necessary skills to adapt to a societal life, etc.

Special guidance for reform is provided to inmates with difficulty in the course of their reform and rehabilitation or smooth reintegration back into society due to special obstacles, such as a drug dependency or being an organized crime group member, with the priority of guidance placed on the obstacle. The following six types of special guidance for reform are available: [1] “guidance on overcoming drug addiction” (prompting inmates to find out concrete ways to avoid using drugs again, after understanding their own problems in drug use; provided in 76 institutions in FY 2011), [2] “guidance on withdrawing from organized crime groups” (prompting inmates to recognize organized crime groups as anti-social in collaboration with the police and with the aim of nurturing their will to break away from such groups, etc.; 36 institutions (id.)), [3] “guidance on prevention of repeat sexual offenses” (prompting inmates to realize their problems generating the tendency to commit sexual offenses, and making them learn concrete ways to avoid repeating them, etc.; 18 institutions (id.)), [4] “education with the victims’ point of view” (prompting inmates to realize the seriousness of the offense they committed and the feelings of their victims, etc., and making them think about how to apologize to them in a sincere manner, etc.; 77 institutions (id.)), [5] “traffic safety guidance” (prompting inmates to be aware of the responsibilities and obligations of drivers, and making them realize the seriousness of their offense, etc.; 54 institutions (id.)), and [6] “employment support guidance” (helping inmates learn the basic skills and manners necessary to be employed, and thus enabling them to make concrete efforts to be employed after their release, etc.; 64 institutions (id.)).

(3) Guidance through school courses

Guidance through school courses is the equivalent of an academic education for inmates who are considered likely to face difficulty in the course of their reformation and rehabilitation or smooth reintegration back into society due to the lack of academic abilities necessary in leading a social life (supplementary guidance through school courses), and for inmates who can make their reintegration back into society smoother with enhanced academic abilities (special guidance through school courses).

Since FY 2007 the Certificate for Students Achieving the Proficiency Level of Upper Secondary School Graduates (high school graduate equivalency examination) has been made available in penal institutions in cooperation between the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and guidance on taking the examination has actively been provided at four designated penal institutions. In FY 2011, 377 inmates took the examination, of whom 134 passed the examination and 215 passed part of the subjects (Source: The Lifelong Learning Policy Bureau, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology).

(4) Guidance prior to release

Inmates are provided with guidance on the knowledge that will be necessary in actually leading a social life for two weeks, in principle, before their release. Through lectures, personal interviews, and other methods, the guidance helps them have the appropriate mental attitude to reintegrate themselves back into society (future life plans and desirable views of life/society, etc.), the awareness of need to adapt to a social life (by giving information on changes in social situation and facilitating to acquire desirable interpersonal relationships, etc.), and knowledge on the various procedures necessary in society (social security and legal procedures, etc.). Guidance through field trips while accompanied by officials of penal institutions is also provided, as required. In addition, treatment of inmates can be implemented in so-called “open dormitories” in open zones in penal institutions where the cells are not necessarily locked, before their release in thus facilitating their smooth reintegration back into society.