A set of bills passed by the Diet last month, including a Criminal Law revision, will introduce within three years a suspended sentence and probation procedure for convicts who fall into a certain category. The new system is intended not only to facilitate rehabilitation and readjustment of convicts but also to help reduce the rate of recidivism.

But there are not enough volunteers and facilities that take care of those released from prison under the new system. The government must make serious efforts to quickly increase the number of such volunteers and facilities.

Currently convicted criminals who receive prison sentences are either imprisoned or have their sentences suspended. The new system falls between these two sentences. It will be applied to convicts who would be given three year sentences or shorter under the current system — mainly narcotic drug users and people facing prison terms for the first time. Under the new system, a court could give, for example, two years' imprisonment with six months suspended and two years' probation. After 1½ years of imprisonment, the convict would be released.