Japanese Corrections: Managing Convicted Offenders in an Orderly Society

Japanese Corrections: Managing Convicted Offenders in an Orderly Society

Japanese Corrections: Managing Convicted Offenders in an Orderly Society

Japanese Corrections: Managing Convicted Offenders in an Orderly Society

Synopsis

In his analysis of the current Japanese corrections system, Elmer H. Johnson focuses on three basic questions: What are the characteristics of the major programmatic elements? How do various personnel carry out their programmatic responsibilities? Why are the various duties and activities carried out in a particular way? Johnson points out that compared with the United States, where prison populations are huge and often violent, Japan incarcerates relatively few criminals. In 1989, for example, Japan locked up only 34 out of every 100,000 citizens while the United States imprisoned people at a rate of 271 per 100,000. Examining the cultural differences leading to this disparity, Johnson notes that in Japan prosecutors are reluctant to refer defendants for trial and the courts often suspend sentences for convicted felons. In Japan, two bureaus - the Correction Bureau and the Rehabilitation Bureau - administer all Japanese correctional activities. Placing these bureaus in the organizational scheme of the Ministry of Justice, Johnson traces the history, describes the organizational ideologies, and outlines the special features of each. Johnson sums up by noting that both the Correction Bureau and the Rehabilitation Bureau depend on the overall operations of police, prosecutors, and judges. More broadly, he asserts, both bureaus are creatures of Japanese society and culture. The assets and disadvantages of the bureaus reflect society's reluctance to sentence defendants to prison and, to a lesser extent, the reluctance to place them on probationary supervision.

Excerpt

A growing number of books and articles in English have described and analyzed Japanese society and its "miracle economy." Now and then the "safe streets" have been mentioned, but little of substance and reliability has been said about the approaches of the Correction Bureau and the Rehabilitation Bureau.

The unique features of Japanese corrections aroused my curiosity in 1970 while attending the United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders in Kyoto. As Visiting Expert on community corrections in 1985 at the United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders (UNAFEI) in Tokyo, I had an exceptional opportunity for an extensive observation of correctional institutions and community-based programs in Japan.

These initial contacts had impressed me with the importance of understanding the operations of the Correction and Rehabilitation Bureaus. My feeling was that, on a scale not yet accomplished, the what, why, and how of those operations should be recorded and made available to the public and criminologists.

With my retirement from the faculty of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale scheduled for the fall of 1987, I wanted to satisfy my curiosity by studying in detail the . . .

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