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(2) Establishment of effective measures to prevent repeat offenses
The number of repeat offenders among those cleared for non-traffic penal code offenses has been increasing recently and the percentage of repeat offenders among overall cleared persons has also been on a rise. As mentioned before, serious crimes have successively been committed by those discharged from penal institutions, etc., which has raised the general public's concern over the establishment of effective measures to prevent sex offenders, etc. from repeating offenses.
Establishing effective measures to prevent repeat offenses is one of the important anticrime measures, which works to ease the general public's anxiety over crimes. However, the reimprisonment rate of inmates discharged from penal institutions and the rate of offenders given suspension of execution of sentence with probationary supervision who ended up receiving disposition again have continuously remained at a high level, and it is not easy to prevent repeat offenses by those once placed under institution-based treatment or community-based treatment.
The above-mentioned introduction of sex offender treatment programs in penal institutions and in the process of probationary supervision is the efforts aiming to implement treatment programs based on scientific Cognitive-Behavior Treatment, which have been found effective through experimental studies in foreign countries, in a systematic manner in cooperation among organizations relating to offender treatment, such as penal institutions and probation offices. If these programs turn out to be effective in preventing repeat offenses, they will be positioned as very important in the overall treatment system for offenders. Therefore, sufficient objective assessment should be conducted on the effects of these programs.
However, efforts by offender treatment organizations alone are not enough for realizing smooth rehabilitation of offenders and thereby producing effects of preventing repeat offenses.
It is necessary for primary investigative organizations such as the police, judicial organizations such as public prosecutors offices and courts, and treatment organizations relating to correction and rehabilitation to be fully aware of the criminal policy purpose of preventing repeat offenses and cooperate with each other to pursue their respective duties.
In that sense, it is an important move that information concerning inmates who served their sentence for certain offenses such as sexual offenses and are going to be discharged from penal institutions has come to be provided to and shared with the police and the police have come to give cooperation in finding the whereabouts of missing probationers/parolees. Such collaboration should be further enhanced.
As mentioned above, the upper limits of penalties were raised by the recently revised Penal Code, which enables the courts to provide wider-ranging sentencing, considering the possibility of a defendant's repeating offenses along with other circumstances. Furthermore, as fines were newly established for theft and obstructing performance of public duty, etc. as optional punishment, the impact of punishment is likely to affect the minds of offenders with relatively less advanced criminal tendencies. If this system is operated appropriately, it is expected to have effects for preventing repeat offenses from the viewpoint of criminal policy.
The system of parole should also be reviewed for preventing repeat offenses. The above-mentioned "Advisory Committee Seeking the Ideal Form of Rehabilitation" recommends that the criteria for parole should be made stricter for those unwilling to rehabilitate themselves while the start of parole should be decided by paying full consideration to ensuring a parole period sufficient for each inmate's smooth reintegration into society, and early discharge on parole should be admitted for those who are willing to rehabilitate themselves and are suitable for community-based treatment. Needless to say, for appropriately operating such an improved parole system, accurate assessment of each inmate's risk of repeating offenses and further enhancement of the community-based treatment system are required.
Persons related to criminal justice need to effectively utilize such options as provided by these new legislative measures in their given situation to operate them in view of the very purpose of preventing repeat offenses.
In the meantime, offenders' smooth reintegration into society and effectiveness of measures to prevent repeat offenses will never be achieved without collaboration with local communities, into which offenders eventually go back, and efforts by local residents in communities.
Therefore, it is important to promote understanding of the general public and local communities concerning offenders' rehabilitation.
Penal institutions have made efforts to ensure private cooperators who provide cooperation for inmates' rehabilitation. It would be desirable that collaboration with local communities will further be ensured through activities of the Penal Institution Inspection Committee which was introduced under the Act on Treatment of Sentenced Inmates. Construction and management of new penal institutions by way of the PFI method will portray the picture of desirable penal institutions supported by local communities more vividly. Penal institutions will be thereby made more open to the general public.
It is needless to say that collaboration with local communities is important in the field of community-based treatment. Power of the private sector such as volunteer probation officers has been actively utilized, but the above-mentioned Recommendations by the "Advisory Committee Seeking the Ideal Form of Rehabilitation" point out that understanding of the general public and local communities concerning the operation of the rehabilitation system is not sufficient. Taking this remark seriously, it is necessary to deepen understanding of the general public and local communities concerning rehabilitation and seek even stronger collaboration with local communities.
In addition to seeking such strong collaboration with local communities, it is also necessary to continue making efforts to strengthen employment support measures for discharged inmates, etc.