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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 153756 Find in a Library
Title: Prison Conditions in Japan
Author(s): J Weschler
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 113
Sponsoring Agency: Human Rights Watch
New York, NY 10118-3299
Publication Number: ISBN 1-56432-146-0
Sale Source: Human Rights Watch
350 Fifth Avenue
34th Floor
New York, NY 10118-3299
United States of America
Type: Issue Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: As of March 1994, the Japanese prison system held about 45,000 inmates in 59 institutions capable of housing 64,000 inmates; despite the lack of prison overcrowding, Japanese inmates face routine human rights violations from the time of arrest through the end of the prison term.
Abstract: To assess prison conditions in Japan, interviews were conducted with former prisoners, relatives of current prisoners, clergy, prisoner support group members, lawyers, and government officials. It was found that Japanese prisoners experience routine human rights violations. From the moment of arrest and initial detention in a police station, through the presentencing stay in a detention center and the prison sentence, inmates are deprived of the most basic rights and often suffer from severe abuse at the hands of correctional officials. The most widespread problems in Japanese prisons involve the correctional system's extreme rigidity and the view that prisoners have no rights. Even though most inmates live in clean cells, wear clean clothes, and do not starve, they are deprived of human contact for extended periods and have very strict limits on contacts with the outside world and among prisoners. Strict rules on contacts make prison conditions intolerable and impose regimentation that has no apparent rehabilitative purpose. Further, all correspondence is read and often censored, and legal contacts are seriously curtailed as well. Rules are strictly enforced, but they are vague in specifying punishments and thus leave room for arbitrary actions by correctional guards. Solitary confinement is meted out for a wide range of infractions, and death row inmates sometimes spend decades in total isolation. Inmates who commit serious infractions are perceived by correctional staff as particularly defiant and are sometimes beaten. Most inmates work, either in prison factories or in their cells, but receive no wages, and they get very little outdoor exercise time. Overall conditions in Japanese prisons violate human rights since there is an excessive emphasis on rules and regimentation. Recommendations are offered to make Japanese correctional facilities more humane. Information on daily schedules of and rules for Japanese inmates is appended. 73 footnotes and 4 figures
Main Term(s): Corrections in foreign countries
Index Term(s): Foreign correctional facilities; Foreign correctional systems; Foreign inmates; Human rights violations; Japan; Prison conditions; Prison overcrowding
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