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2 Volunteer probation officers and their organizations
Volunteer probation officers, nongovernmental volunteers commissioned by the Minister of Justice, are assigned to any one of the 905 probation districts that exist across the country (as of April 1, 2003) and are engaged in rehabilitation services under the direction of Regional Parole Boards or the heads of the probation offices to help probation officers through making use of their knowledge on the circumstances in the community and social resources. According to the Volunteer Probation Officer Law, volunteer probation officers have the mission of supporting the reform and rehabilitation of offenders, helping to remove crime and delinquency from community by striving to enlighten public opinion towards crime prevention, and thereby contributing to individual and public welfare. They should meet prescribed requirements; their character and behavior must be socially respected, and they must have the necessary enthusiasm and surplus of time to perform their duties. They are not paid a salary, but receive reimbursement for all or part of the actual costs arising in the course of their duties. With a view to improving probationary supervision and other activities that are carried out cooperatively by probation officers and volunteer probation officers, probation offices etc. conduct various forms of training for volunteer probation officers on a regular and planned basis and maintain close collaboration with them.
The Volunteer Probation Officer Law stipulates that the number of volunteer probation officers should not exceed 52,500. As of January 1, 2003, there were 49,205 officers throughout country (Source: Data by Rehabilitation Bureau, Ministry of Justice).
As organizations of volunteer probation officers, there are Volunteer Probation Officers Associations in each probation district, Federations of Volunteer Probation Officers Associations in each prefecture and Regional Federations of Volunteer Probation Officers in each jurisdiction area of Regional Parole Boards, and the National Federation of Volunteer Probation Officers.
These organizations carry out the following activities: designing plans for crime prevention and development of social resources; promoting liaison and cooperation of volunteer probation officers (for example, providing with information useful for treating offenders, promoting cooperation among them, liaising and cooperating with related organizations including local governments etc.); collecting the data and information necessary to perform their duties; carrying out study on their duties and presenting their opinions; training; and promoting the recruitment of new volunteer probation officers.