Update on Japan’s geriatric crime wave

A little over 4 years ago we wrote a piece on the geriatric crimewave in Japan. Recidivist pensioners were committing petty crimes to break into prison to offset a life of poverty.

Our full report can be found here.

Here are some excerpts from Gendai Business magazine which updates the worsening crisis facing the elderly and prison:

The number of “elderly inmates”above the age of 70 was 1,884 (2.65% of the total number of inmates in 2007) but in 2017 that number had surged to 2,278 people (4.81% of the total)…

…Their crimes? 54.2% of those 70yo+ were jailed for theft, far higher than convictions for possession of methamphetamines (9.4%). 90% of those thefts involved shoplifting or stealing bicycles…

…a 2017 police white paper noted that those over 65yo are 3.45x more likely to steal than minors (14-19yo)...

…Considering that the number of elderly inmates continues to increase, it is not difficult to imagine that the number of inmates requiring nursing care for dementia is rising with it. It can be said that some prisons are already becoming “nursing homes” in effect. If left as it is, the prison will soon be unable to stand...

Behind this is the problem of poverty. The aging rate in 2019 is 28.4%, the poverty rate of elderly households is 27%, and there are old people everywhere who are in need of support…

The last resort to reach an elderly person who has no family or job and cannot rely on anyone, and who cannot live their lives, is a safe prison life that guarantees “food, medicine and shelter”. In recent years, the number of elderly people who are recidivists for the purpose of “going into jail” is increasing.

All of these problems we noted in our 2016 report. Our suggestion was to build huge retirement villages in remote areas in Japan where the elderly could elect to sacrifice a portion of their pension to live without the indignity of living behind bars. As it stands, prison guards will increasingly become nurses, including changing diapers for the elderly.

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