No country for old men: Japan’s elderly inmates prefer jail
TOKYO, Jan 15 — Every day is the same. He wakes at 6:45 am, eats breakfast 20 minutes later and reports for work at eight o’clock sharp. But this isn’t your typical Japanese salaryman.
- This man is in his 80s and he is in prison — he is hesitant to ever leave. “I don’t know what kind of life I should lead after I get out. I’ll be worried about my health and financial situation once I leave,” the inmate told AFP from Tokyo’s Fuchu Prison, where he is serving time for attempted theft.
- His case is not unique: Japan is in the midst of a geriatric crime wave such that its prisons increasingly look like nursing homes.
- In 2015, almost 20 per cent of those who were either arrested or interrogated by police were aged 65 or older — up from 5.8 per cent in 2000, according to the National Police Agency.
- Most are imprisoned for petty crime such as shoplifting and theft.
- The rise in senior crime is attributed to increased economic hardship, an ageing population, and pure greed, according to a 2013 report by the National Police Agency.
- “It’s a problem that the work of prison officers is becoming more like nursing care,” Officers at Fuchu, Japan’s biggest male-only correctional house, have to change diapers for some prisoners and help them bathe.
- “Older prisoners sometimes are hard of hearing,” Nishioka said. “They don’t understand instructions and they have to go to the toilet often. It’s tough. We’ll need more officers.”
- Life is monotonous, and naturally restricted, yet many prefer this predictable regimen where they have shelter, food, and medical care, to life on the outside.
- “At least (in prison) they have a roof over their head and guaranteed meals,” says Tina Maschi, associate professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service.
- “They don’t have to worry about day-to-day things inside prison,” she said.
Why do we ignore the elderly?
JANUARY 15 — In 2014, 126 seniors aged 60 and above killed themselves. This is a jump of nearly 60 per cent from the 79 seniors who committed suicide in 2000. There were 95 of them in 2010 as reported by The Straits Times.
- In wealthy, shiny Singapore, it is easy to not think about things like elderly suicide and it is also easy to push it to the state.
- It is not necessarily a lack of access to medical care or basic necessities — things that one can ordinarily and reasonably argue is the onus of the state — but rather it is social isolation that is proving to be the major issue.
- The women and men who raised us feel alone and you can’t legislate for loneliness.
- A friend wrote yesterday to grieve his grandmother’s recent passing and his one recurring thought was remorse — he fervently regretted all the evenings he returned home from work and walked right past the room of the woman who had loved him all his life and right to the TV.
- Today, weeks after her death he finds walking past that empty room wrenching.
- Is it so easy to forget we too will get old?