Letters to the Editor,
The Daily Yomiuri,
Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-8243
The announcement of a new public safety policy in “Sex offenders to receive regular visits from police” (January 14th), for police to keep tabs on released sex offenders by visiting their homes might sound good at first. But then we are told that “The visits will take place subject to the offenders’ consent.” So what’s the point, and what’s the news story? It sounds like there is no story and there is no point either, which is a common bureaucratic muddle. Even so, I wonder what consideration has been given to the philosophy of it. I mean, if an offender - a sex offender or any other - has finished serving his/her sentence then it can easily be said that their debt to society is paid and finished and that further involvement in their lives by justice and penal services is illegitimate. Of course, one can argue that sex crimes constitute a special case that warrant further state monitoring for reasons of public safety and trust. But has an argument for special status of those ex-cons satisfactorily been made and finalized? Post-release monitoring of ex-cons helps police and politicians boast about their anti-crime fighting efforts. But is that really it?
Published on Thursday, January 20th as “Haven’t former convicts paid debt to society?”
It took almost a year of trying to get printed in The Daily Yomiuri, but it finally happened on Thursday, January 20 when the paper published my letter about the proposal for police to regularly visit released sex offenders (but only with the ex-cons consent). It is my 21st Yomiuri letter, my 129th overall, and my third printed letter this year/month. Several letters were printed simultaneously today, as if the paper was trying to clear a backlog, or something. That’s quite possible, because for the last couple of weeks the opinion page has been running a series of essays on the same topic that kind of monopolized the page. Now that the series is finished I guess they have space once again for readers’ letters, including mine, and so they printed a bunch all together. Or not.
When I ask “But has an argument for special status of those ex-cons satisfactorily been made and finalized?” many might object that it certainly has. Studies in America demonstrate such a shockingly high rate of recidivism among sex offenders that it warrants regarding sex offenders as chronically mentally ill and beyond rehabilitation, etc. In such a case I might say that the argument has been made and demonstrated there, but not here. Typical of Japan there is practically no public debate of these issues, and so nothing is “satisfactorily finalized.”