The Justice Ministry plans to launch a system in October 2007 that would allow crime victims to express their opinion on whether the perpetrators should be released on parole, government sources said Saturday.

The intended change is aimed at giving victims a guaranteed opportunity to have their opinions considered in the treatment of criminals, but some experts are concerned the system will prevent some prisoners from making parole even if they deserve early release.

The ministry plans to incorporate the measure in a bill aimed at promoting rehabilitation of criminals to be submitted to the Diet early next year, the sources said.

Under the bill, crime victims would be offered a chance to speak with or communicate in writing to rehabilitation boards, which decide parole matters.

Currently, victims have no express right to give their opinions, although boards can decide on their own to seek such opinions.

The Penal Code provides that prisoners may be released on parole when a certain period has passed and if they have repented.

A Justice Ministry ordinance also stipulates that there must be no fear that prisoners will offend again and that the public accepts their return to the community.

There are eight such boards across the country where three-member panels decide whether prisoners should be released after receiving applications from prison chiefs.

When deemed necessary, the panels can hear from crime victims by dispatching an officer to speak to them. This is considered part of the boards’ judgment of public sentiment.

Under the proposed system, crime victims would be guaranteed the opportunity to express their opinions.

The ministry drafted the idea in line with a basic government plan to beef up support for crime victims adopted by the Cabinet last December.

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