Section 1 Parole

The parole system aims to prevent repeat offenses and promote reformation/rehabilitation and smooth social reintegration of inmates sentenced to imprisonment with or without work who have “genuine repentance” and who are deemed capable of successfully rehabilitating themselves, by releasing them before completion of their term of imprisonment and instead placing them under parole supervision during their term of parole (i.e. the remaining term of their imprisonment).

Parole can be granted to inmates sentenced to imprisonment with or without work after they have served the statutory term, which is 1/3 of a definite imprisonment term or 10 years for life imprisonment (See Subsection 3, Section 1, Chapter 3, Part 3 for special provisions under the Juvenile Act). Parole is granted to inmates that have “genuine repentance.” More concretely, parole can be granted to inmates who are deemed to have a sense of remorse for the offense they committed and to be willing to reform and rehabilitate themselves, without any likelihood of repeating an offense, thus making it reasonable to place them under parole supervision for their own reformation and rehabilitation, with the general sentiment of society approving of that decision. In addition, a system to hear the opinions of victims in parole examinations has been in force since December 1, 2007 (See Subsection 5, Section 1, Chapter 2, Part 5).

Probation offices with jurisdiction over the inmate’s post-release abode implement coordination of the social circumstances. Upon receiving an investigative report on the personal affairs of the inmate to be released from the penal institution, etc. the probation officer or volunteer probation officer will inspect his/her planned post-release abode and coordinate the environment, including the residence and employment, etc., through interviews with his/her guarantor to make it more suitable for the rehabilitation of the released inmate. With elderly or disabled persons that tend to face difficulty in becoming independent without residence, coordination can be made in cooperation with community settlement support centers the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has been developing from FY 2009 to enable them to be admitted to social welfare institutions. The results of coordination of the social circumstances can be utilized as a useful data in parole examinations and serve as a basis for the social reintegration of the inmate.

The number of persons for whom coordination of the social circumstances were commenced decreased for three consecutive years from 2007, but then turned to increase in 2010, and was 47,013 in 2011 (up 8.9% from the previous year) (Source: Annual Report of Statistics on Rehabilitation).