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2013年6月21日 (金)

一部執行猶予 更生を促す体制整備が急務だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun June 20, 2013
New penal system should help criminals rehabilitate themselves
一部執行猶予 更生を促す体制整備が急務だ(6月19日付・読売社説)

It is essential to ensure the newly envisaged penal system is conducive to preventing criminal offenders from committing more crimes, which is essential to improve public security.

The Diet recently passed into law a set of penalty-related bills, including one aimed at revising the Penal Code to introduce a system by which people serving terms of imprisonment would be released early. The system is designed to help rehabilitate prisoners by treating them as normal members of society. To this end, they will be discharged after serving part of their terms. The new system will be enforced within three years.

The Penal Code incorporates two types of sentence: one requiring a convicted defendant to serve a prison term, and the other that does not oblige the accused to spend time in prison. The latter sentence means, for instance, that a two-year term of imprisonment suspended for three years would allow the accused to remain free unless he or she commits another crime within three years.

Under the new system, sentencing can be regarded as a cross between a term of imprisonment and a suspended sentence.

1st-time offenders

For example, a person may receive a three-year imprisonment sentence with a two-year stay of execution of one year. This means the accused will be imprisoned for two years, and then released. The accused will not be sent back to prison to serve the rest of the original sentence unless he or she commits another crime within the next two years.

The new system is intended to address problems facing people who have been discharged from prison after serving their terms. In many cases, they find themselves unable to adapt to society, and quite often break the law again. Given this, we understand why the new system is designed to rehabilitate prisoners by releasing them before they serve their full terms.

The system will mainly cover first-time offenders convicted of less serious crimes, such as offenses related to stimulants and other drugs.

Without exception, the system will subject drug addicts to probationary supervision during the suspension of their sentences. Probation officers will require them to attend programs aimed at ending their drug dependence. If necessary, they will be treated at medical facilities.

This reflects a widely accepted view that drug addicts should live their daily lives as members of society, rather than throwing them into prison. According to experts, drug addicts should be allowed to live with all the temptations of life in the real world and persuaded to resist the lure of drugs again and again. Such an approach is believed to be more beneficial in ending their drug dependency.

Hire more probation officers

According to one estimate, the adoption of the new system will entail an increase by 2,000 to 3,000 in the number of people subject to probationary supervision. However, it is distressing to see that our society is not fully prepared to accept such people.

It will be essential to increase the number of probation officers, while also securing a sufficient number of volunteers tasked with aiding in their rehabilitation.

There also are too few medical institutions specializing in treating drug addicts. With this in mind, the Justice Ministry and the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry should cooperate in establishing more hub hospitals responsible for playing a central role in this task.

Some private-sector rehabilitation institutions are working to arrange for drug addicts to live together and to help them return to society. We hope the public and private sectors will cooperate in setting up more facilities that accept drug addicts released from prison.

The new system will also require the courts to adequately examine whether--and how realistically, for that matter--defendants will be able to rehabilitate themselves.

The new system is very different from the current release-on-probation system.
The current system decides whether a prisoner should be released on parole, by considering the degree to which he or she has been rehabilitated while in prison. Under the new system, however, judges must reach a crucial conclusion when they hand down their decisions--whether a sentence should be complemented by a partial stay of execution.

Meanwhile, public prosecutors should properly assess each defendant’s prospects for rehabilitation when they argue their cases.

The new system also challenges members of the public to consider what it means to accept offenders trying to rehabilitate themselves in society. It is essential for people to accept the idea of encouraging offenders to rehabilitate themselves.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 19, 2013)
(2013年6月19日02時16分  読売新聞)


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