I was astonished to read about the high crime rate amongst elderly people in Japan. According to the Washington Times,
The number of Japanese prisoners age 60 or older has doubled over the past decade to more than 10,000. That outpaces a 30 percent increase in the general population for that age group. The elderly represent 16 percent of the nation’s inmates.
I heard a report on the World Service this morning which also looked into this phenomenon and suggested the increase was down to social changes which left elderly people to their own devices where in years gone by they could have expected to be looked after by their families. The Washington Times article goes on to say, rather heartbreakingly, that,
About half are repeat offenders, including some who steal to get caught and return to the relative security of prison, where at least shelter — if spartan — and three meals a day, as well as a twice-weekly bath, are guaranteed.
“I’m already an old man, and the economy is bad out there,” a nearly 70-year-old inmate told the Associated Press, which was granted a rare tour of a Japanese prison.
His sentence for attempted robbery is up in April, and the prospect of going free fills him with more dread than joy.
“I’m worried that there would be no work for someone like me,” he said.