“Prison is a place of relaxation and comfort”

Japanese prisons are becoming more elderly prisoners. Many of them are breaking the law from loneliness, poverty and boredom. The prospect of going to jail does not frighten them, because in the wild even worse. “the Tape.ru” figured out why this is happening.

“the First shoplifting I made 13 years ago,” says 80-year-old woman serving a sentence in a Japanese prison. She had everything — money, and the family, but she still felt unnecessary: “People always said I was lucky, but I didn’t want this. Money does not make me happy.”

One day she wandered into the store, got to the counter the book and tried to make her a hollow, but then he fell. “A police officer who interrogated me, was the sweetest person,” says the Japanese. He listened carefully to her, and then patted him on the shoulder and said, “I understand that you are lonely, but don’t do it again”. It seemed to her that listened to her for the first time.

She continued to commit petty theft, and eventually landed in jail. There she unexpectedly liked it. “In prison I live better. Always around people, and I’m never alone,” says the woman. She loved even forced labor in the prison factory, although before has not worked even once in my life — the money her husband allowed not to think about it.

For the first time followed by a second, and now the elderly Japanese woman sitting in third time. “When I came out after the second time, I swore I would never come back, she says. But when it was released, involuntarily homesick for prison.”

Japan is aging faster than any other country in the world. Age 27.3 percent of the population of Japan exceeds 65 years. For comparison, in Russia the elderly only 14 percent, i.e. almost two times less. While in 1960 the share of the elderly population in Japan and in Russia was the same — about six percent.

Prison population grows old even faster. In just ten years the number of elderly people in Japanese prisons grew by seven percent. By 2016 behind bars were 9308 Japanese older than 60 years. This is 19 per cent of prisoners is unprecedented not only for Japan but for other countries.

Japanese correctional institution was faced with another unusual trend. In recent time behind bars more and more often get elderly Japanese women. Before this almost never happened, and now every fifth prisoner for over 60 years. Sometimes — much more.

Prison rules invented for young and healthy people. This creates a sizable problem for older prisoners and for staff. “I have a bad heart, and I often fell down from weakness in the prison shop,” — says 81 year old inmate who is serving a life sentence for a murder committed 60 years ago.

Employees, on whom fell the duties of orderlies and nurses, too, not envy. According to Satomi Kazuki working as a warden in a women’s prison in Tochigi, she has to deal with prisoners who suffer from incontinence. “They are shy and they hide underwear, she says. — I tell them to bring it in, I will wash”. Patience enough not to all, so in women’s prisons strong turnover: many quit, not having worked for three years.

Each institution, faced with similar problems, comes out on his own. Prison in the city of Takamatsu took the elderly prisoners the first floor of the three-story building, which was erected in 2010. That from the camera was easy to travel in a wheelchair or on the crutches taken care of still under construction.

prison for Men in Tokushima, allocated to older prisoner the whole building. There lived those who due to old age can not work in a prison factory where they sew shoes and underwear. For them, found a simple work that can be done right in the camera. For the elderly looked after by professional nurses. They are pre-crushed noodles and other foods for those who have lost teeth and unable to chew food by himself.

According to Kenji Yamaguchi, head of care for elderly prisoners in Tokushima, health care of elderly behind bars, does not mean that they can do anything. Although they don’t have to go to the factory, during working hours they should be silent. In addition, the chambers are not air conditioned, and basically give not more than two or three times a week.

Tokushima — the only major correctional facility in Japan with a separate case, where they live and work elderly prisoners. Other prisons have to do without it, but keeping behind bars many old people in an effort to afford all. For ten years this cost has increased by 80 percent. In 2015 the Japanese prisons were spent on care for the elderly for six billion yen (approximately 3.5 billion).

it may seem that Japanese prisons are too indulge the criminals. Kenji Yamaguchi is sure that it is not so: “Their freedom is still limited significantly. It can not be called comfortable life.”

Despite this, elderly Japanese often end up behind bars because on the freedom them even worse. More than half of them lived alone and taken care of yourself. In 40 percent no family left, or they rarely saw them. The lack of contact with other people is a serious problem. Japanese prisons are enough of those who choose to sacrifice freedom for the sake of rescue from loneliness or boredom.

“the Prison is like an oasis for me. It is a place of relaxation and comfort, says 78-year-old Japanese woman, who is serving a third term for petty shoplifting. I have no freedom, but there is nothing to worry about. There are people with whom you can talk, and nourishing food three times a day.”

prison Many freed from poverty, which carries a lonely old age. In Japan, the elderly can count on a state pension, however the amount payable is a quarter less than minimum wage. To do this, you need either substantial savings or your children ready to help in difficult times. If neither one nor the other, does not help even a total savings.

“I lived on state benefits. It was hard, — says the 74-year-old inmate, who was jailed for a bottle of Coca-Cola and orange juice stolen from the store. — When released, will have to do a thousand yen per day (600 rubles). On the outside I do not expect anything good.”

the Situation is complicated by the fact that an elderly person is not easy to find a job, and if there is a conviction almost impossible. “Work for those over 65, very little, — says 71-year-old repeat offender seven times formerly in prison for theft and fraud. — When you have a job and a roof over my head, can live. But without them, it remains only to carry things from the shops and steal for food”.

not surprisingly, about a quarter of the inmates of old age, having been released shortly commit another crime and go to jail. 36 per cent of older people that are contained in a Japanese prison, was in prison at least six times.

“Honestly, I don’t feel anything except anxiety, — says one of the older prisoners, decisively in Tokushima 13-year sentence for murder. — I have misgivings, afraid that it would be difficult to adapt to the outside world. I even more do not know. Try not to think about that I better stay here.”