Open prisons linked to lower rates of recidivism

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe percentage of inmates who were re-imprisoned after being released at three of the four open-type prisons nationwide ranged from 8 percent to 14 percent, much lower than the nationwide average of 43 percent at all prisons and other facilities for rehabilitating criminals, the Justice Ministry announced.

The ministry released the figures in the wake of an inmate’s escape from the Oi shipyard at Matsuyama Prison.

The four prison facilities, including the Oi shipyard, are dubbed “prisons without walls.” The ministry figures show the percentage of inmates who committed a crime after leaving prison and were therefore re-imprisoned.

“[Open-type prisons] are highly effective at preventing inmates from committing crimes again. Balancing them with measures to prevent a recurrence [of the escape incident] is a crucial task,” a ministry official said.

The purpose of open prisons is to foster inmates’ self-control by having them live and work in circumstances similar to those in society.

The four facilities accommodate about 200 well-behaved model inmates.

Surveillance systems in the open prisons have been less strict than in ordinary prisons. However, the prisons’ style of management has been called into question after Tatsuma Hirao, 27, escaped from the Oi shipyard last month.

The Justice Ministry’s announcement showed the percentage of inmates at the four facilities from 2003 to 2012 who were re-imprisoned within six years of their release.

According to the ministry, the rate at the Oi shipyard was 10 percent, while the rate at the Arii workshop at Hiroshima Prison in Hiroshima Prefecture was 14 percent. Both facilities accommodate model inmates imprisoned for the first time.

The rate at Ichihara Prison in Chiba Prefecture, which mainly holds people imprisoned for causing traffic accidents and other traffic law violations, was 8 percent.

The rate at Futamigaoka farm of Abashiri Prison in Hokkaido, which mainly accommodates inmates with a history of criminal activity, was 48 percent. However, the rate of all such inmates nationwide who were re-imprisoned after being released was about 60 percent.

“All four facilities have proved effective at preventing inmates from committing crimes again after being released from prisons,” a senior ministry official said.

However, local residents near the shipyard were fearful during the about three weeks it took to arrest Hirao after he escaped. The ministry therefore will consider strengthening the surveillance systems at each prison.Speech

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