Penal provisions focus on rehabilitation and not on punishment
The Diet is set to amend criminal law provisions for the first time in more than a century to emphasize rehabilitation programs rather than outright punishment to enable offenders to better reintegrate into society upon release from prison.
On June 10, the upper house Judiciary Committee passed legislation to implement the first change to criminal law provisions since the criminal law was created in 1907.
The plenary session of the Upper House is expected to address the issue on June 13.
Changes to penal provisions to reduce the high rate of recidivism will allow greater opportunity for guidance and education for prisoners in place of the work requirement now enshrined in law.
The changes will be enacted within three years.
Current legal provisions on prison sentences make a clear distinction between prisoners required to work and those who do not.
Among the prison sentences finalized in 2020, the prison sentence without work applied to only 0.32% of new inmates. But even these inmates often volunteered to work, presumably out of boredom, making the distinction between the two types of prison sentences essentially meaningless.
Proposed new legislation says offenders will be allowed to work if necessary, but should also be allowed to take counseling to help them reintegrate into society at the end of their sentence.
Provision of labor would not be required of all inmates, leaving open the possibility of additional orientation and education programs, depending on the seriousness of the crime committed.
For example, those convicted of drug-related offenses would be allowed to spend more time in orientation programs tailored to their needs in order to reduce the high rate of recidivism among such inmates.
While the crime rate has fallen in recent years, the recidivism rate remains above 50%.
Education programs would also be implemented to ensure that those released from prison are provided with the basic skills needed to do something with their lives rather than ending up behind bars again.