miércoles, 30 de marzo de 2016

MercatorNet: Japan’s ageing crimewave

MercatorNet: Japan’s ageing crimewave

Japan’s ageing crimewave

For some, prison is just more attractive than the outside world.
Marcus Roberts | Mar 30 2016 | comment 1 
CNBC published on Easter Sunday a terribly sad story about Japan’s ageing population: many of those who are retired and should be enjoying their twilight years playing the Japanese versions of bingo and bridge are instead becoming recidivist offenders. That’s right, in Japan over a third of all shoplifting offences are committed by those over 60 years old and, of the repeat offenders within that age bracket, 40 per cent have committed the same crime more than six times.
This does appear somewhat amusing (the CNBC report calls them “silver-haired crooks”) but the fact that academics believe that recidivism rates are so high because many elderly Japanese want to be in prison is distressingly sad. Prison, despite its obvious drawbacks, offers free food, accommodation and healthcare. All of these things are attractive when “a single Japanese retiree with minimal savings has living costs more than 25 per cent higher than the meagre basic state pension of Y780,000 ($6,900) a year” even if these retires subsist on “a frugal diet and dirt-cheap accommodation”. Prison also has this additional attraction: support and a cure for loneliness. According to Akio Doteuchi, a senior researcher on social development at the NLI Research Institute in Tokyo:
"The ratio of people who receive public assistance is highest since the end of the war. About 40 per cent of the elderly live alone. It's a vicious circle. They leave prison, they don't have money or family so they turn immediately to crime."
Mr Doteuchi is worried that the geriatric crime wave is growing and that the prison system as a whole could be “overrun” by elderly inmates. Retiree crime is rising more quickly than Japan’s general demographic ageing (by 2060 40 per cent of a reduced Japanese population will be over the age of 65). Between 1991 and 2013, the number of elderly inmates in jail for repeating the same offence six times has climbed 460 per cent.
This is a social problem – no country can be said to have a healthy society where elderly people would rather be in prison than outside of it. But it is also an economic problem, part of the growing burden that Japan’s ageing population is placing on its finances. The theft of a Y200 sandwich can earn a two-year prison sentence, say academics, at an Y8.4m cost to the state. This is obviously “a woefully inefficient way for the government to target welfare spending at those who most need it”. Just add it to the list of demographic problems that Japan will have to cope with in the decades to come…
- See more at: http://www.mercatornet.com/demography/view/japans-ageing-crimewave/17823#sthash.JhRJW3VL.dpuf


Most the great works of literature in the ancient world revolved around the importance of blood ties – from the individual to his clan, to the son to his father. There’s the 20-year voyage of Odysseus to find his wife Penelope and son Telemachus. There’s the tragedy of Oedipus, the man who did not know his father and paid dearly for the crime of unwittingly marrying his mother. There’s Antigone, who is executed for having buried her rebellious brother. And so on.
So it’s a bit puzzling to see the nonchalance with which our contemporaries treat children’s right to know their genetic mothers and fathers. Because of IVF, hundreds of thousands of children are born without knowing who their father is. With the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the US, we can expect an explosion in births to surrogate mothers. We are creating a generation of genetic orphans.
In today’s MercatorNet Fleur Letcher has written an excellent explanation of why blood really is thicker than water. She concludes:
I believe we all have an obligation to speak up against any policy or legislation that either deliberately deprives a child of his or her biological parents or fails to mimic a natural family structure. Our society has already apologised to the “Stolen Generation” and to children removed from their unwed mothers in the 1960s. I cannot help but wonder if we will be repeating this exercise to children whose biological ties have been deliberately severed by our “progressive” new concepts of family…

Michael Cook



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For some, prison is just more attractive than the outside world.

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