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Prisons in Japan Struggle to Cope With Aging Population

2018-03-14 18:29
In Japan, almost 20% of the country's inmates are over 60. This video gives a rare look inside a Japanese prison trying to adapt to an aging population. Reuters reporters visited the Tokushima facility - which has had to move it's elderly inmates to a special building with carers. The prison is 520 km (323 miles) west of Tokyo, and is at the forefront of efforts to cope with the growing ranks of elderly inmates now posing a challenge to Japan's penal system. Prisoners aged 60 or above make up 19 percent of the entire prison population in Japan according to 2016 government data. By comparison, only six percent of the U.S. prison population at state and federal levels were aged 60 or above, according to the 2016 Justice Department statistics. About a quarter of convicts over 65 in Japan are repeat offenders. Experts say that says a lot about the state of play in the outside world that they're trying to reintegrate into. The reason for old people serving time repeatedly is "the fact that reintegration into society is so difficult for them", according to Yasuyuki Deguchi, professor of criminal psychology at Tokyo Future University Jobs are scarce for the old, as is shelter. And so while some are anxious to leave prison, others willingly go back. The tendency to re-offend amongst the elderly is a huge concern in Japan. One in four ex-convicts aged 65 and above, returns to prison within two years after release. According to government data, this is the highest rate among all age groups.