Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Govt to Overhaul Program for Former Convicted Drug Abusers

Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Govt to Overhaul Program for Former Convicted Drug Abusers

Article excerpt

The government is planning to overhaul its rehabilitation program to prevent recidivism among former convicted drug offenders and reintegrate them into society, according to government sources.

Prompted by a high percentage of recidivism among parolees, the move also aims to keep in line with a so-called partial probationary system (see below), probably as early as next June, in which prison terms will be divided into a certain length of imprisonment and a stay of execution for the rest of the term.

The system will lead to more former prisoners seeking successful reintegration into society, meaning the current rehabilitation program needs to be revamped to deter prisoners from repeating drug-related offenses, sources said.

Crime in Japan has been declining: newly incarcerated individuals fell by about 33 percent during a 10-year period from 2005, but newly incarcerated drug abusers fell by only 14 percent.

In research from 2009 to 2013, 49.8 percent of ex-prisoners who served terms due to violations of the Stimulant Drugs Control Law were reincarcerated within five years after release.

The new rehabilitation programs' periods will be extended from about six months currently to up to five years.

Eligibility criteria for the rehabilitation programs will also be expanded to include those who simply possessed stimulant drugs as well as abusers of other drugs like marijuana, paint thinner, heroin, cocaine and LSD in addition to stimulant drugs. The government is also looking into the eligibility of users of so-called dangerous drugs.

Under the current system, stimulant drug users given suspended prison terms with rehabilitation programs or receive parole are, in principle, obliged to undergo rehabilitation programs.

In 2013, the probation period began for around 4,500 individuals who used stimulant drugs and 1,367 former prisoners started their rehabilitation programs.

After the partial probationary system is introduced, those under probation are expected to double and recipients of the rehabilitation programs are also expected to increase several times. …

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