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Orderliness of Japanese Prisons: The Roles of Prison Officers

NCJ Number
Keepers' Voice Volume: 15 Issue: 4 Dated: (Fall 1994) Pages: 17-22
E H Johnson
Date Published
6 pages
This article describes the cultural environment in which Japanese prisons operate and the unique relationship enjoyed between inmate and correctional officer.
Most Japanese offenders are not sentenced to prison; between the initial police interrogation and final court dispositional hearing, most offenders confess to their crimes, repent, and are given either alternatives sentences to incarceration or short prison terms. These circumstances contribute to the orderliness of Japanese prisoners, where there are minimal numbers of escapes, suicides, and inmate-committed murders. The Corrections Bureau follows the lifetime employment scheme developed by private large-scale employers earlier in the century: the status of loyal corporate citizens, recruitment directly from schools, in-service training, career paths for the further development of competence, rotation of personnel, and a set of welfare benefits. Prison officers, in addition to enforcing the facility's rules of conduct, are also expected to act as intermediaries to meet inmates' needs for medical and other services, and to promote inmates' rehabilitation. Japanese culture socializes inmates and officers in benevolent relationships of surrogate fathers and sons. 28 references