Prison: A haven for elderly women

Every aging society faces distinct challenges. But Japan has been dealing with one it didn’t foresee: senior crime. Complaints and arrests involving elderly people, and women in particular, are taking place at rates above those of any other demographic group. Almost 1 in 5 women in Japanese prisons is a senior. Their crimes are usually minor, with 9 in 10 senior women being convicted of shoplifting.

Why have so many otherwise law-abiding elderly women resorted to petty theft? Caring for Japanese seniors once fell to families and communities, but that’s changing. From 1980 to 2015, the number of seniors living alone increased more than sixfold, to almost 6 million. A recent survey found that more than half of seniors caught shoplifting live alone and 40% either don’t have family or rarely speak with relatives. Seniors say they have no one to turn to when they need help.

Even women with a place to go describe feeling invisible. “They may have a house. They may have a family. But that doesn’t mean they have a place they feel at home,” says Yumi Muranaka, head warden of Iwakuni Women’s Prison. “They feel they are not understood. They feel they are only recognized as someone who gets the house chores done.”

Does this article surprise you? Why or why not? Do Homework
How could society make elderly people feel more valued? Do Homework
In your understanding, what is life like in a prison? Could you cope with prison life? Do Homework
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