• Kyodo

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In a bid to keep suspected repeat offenders from committing similar crimes, Japanese prosecutors are extending periods of detention by up to 10 days to provide time to help find them housing or jobs upon their release, prosecutors said Saturday.

At least 23 public prosecutor’s offices across Japan, including Tokyo, Osaka and Sendai, have started aiding suspected repeat offenders, some of whom are elderly or have disabilities, they said.

The move is prompted by statistics showing many offenders repeat their crimes upon release because they were unable to find a job or place to live.

The 2014 white paper on crime showed repeat offenders accounted for more than 46 percent of all Penal Code violators. Justice Ministry data also showed more than 70 percent of repeat offenders were unemployed.

Advocates say prosecutors want to help reintegrate offenders into society. But the Japan Federation of Bar Associations has warned against using such assistance as a trade-off for securing confessions.

Prosecutors said they only extend the 10-day detention to provide assistance when suspects with prior criminal records own up to committing another crime and both the offender and their lawyers approve of the measure.

Under the scheme a suspect, while being investigated by prosecutors, is interviewed by an assistant officer. At times, welfare workers from such institutions as nursing homes for the aged also attend the interview.

To help elderly people or those with mental disabilities from repeating their offenses, the prosecutor’s offices work with entities such as nonprofit organizations and local governments, and give advice to the suspects’ relatives.

How a suspect behaves during the interview is taken into account by prosecutors in deciding whether or not to indict the suspect, and in determining what sentence to seek in cases that go to trial, the prosecutors said.

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