A Comparative Analysis of Juvenile Pre-Disposition in Japan and The United States 43
disposition options. 42 The Japanese, Hardung argues, have qualitatively and quantitatively better
outcomes than their American counterparts.43 A striking illustration is Tama Juvenile Training
School, which houses about 200 inmates from ages twelve through twenty and boasts a 40%
employment rate for youth exiting the program, vocational training programs, and opportunities
to finish their high school work. 44 Further evidence is found in the juvenile recidivism rates of the
two countries. Japan’s rate is around 13% for male offenders and 8.3% for female offenders, while
states such as Washington, have recidivism rates for males as high as 53% and 46% for females. 45
The United Nations has also noted that Japanese probation officers who prepare these pre-disposition reports are well-trained. 46 Japanese probation officers generally receive three years of
training for their specific role, lectures and on-the-job training, and are part of a “juvenile support
team.” 47 These teams consist of school teachers, child welfare center officers, and police officers. 48
This is compared to the United States’ requirements, which according to the Bureau of Labor
statistics, are a Bachelor’s degree in any field and occasional on-the-job training. 49
While Japan is similar to the U.S. in its employment of professional probation officers, it
sets itself apart from the U.S. and entire global community in its network of 50,000 volunteer
probation officers. 50 These volunteer probation officers supervise local juveniles, often living in
their same community, and many of the interventions are conducted from the home. 51 This unique
system of Japanese volunteer probation officers may beg questions of feasibility and structure, if
applied in the United States. However, counties such as Cook County, IL and San Bernardino
County, CA, have piloted similar programs. 52 Further, according to the National Juvenile Justice
Network, nearly 78% of Americans support rehabilitation in the juvenile justice system. 53 Even
though the U.S. faces difficulties with a less homogenous populations and higher rates of gun
violence, the desire to try a new approach to juvenile justice is present. This new approach should
be the Japanese probation model. Japanese probation officers work from the juvenile’s community,
are familiar with its resources, and often know the juvenile’s family well. Japan, by allowing their
42 Hardung, supra note 34, at 144–45, 162.
43 Id. at 162.
44 Shepherd, supra note 15.
45 Hiroyuki, supra note 1, at 19; WASH. SENT’G GUIDELINES COMM’N, Recidivism of Juvenile Offenders (May 2008),
46 UNAFEI, supra note 35, at 149.
48 Id; see also Lewis et al., Comparing Japanese and English juvenile justice: Reflections on change in the twenty-first century, Crime Prevention and Community Safety: An International Journal, 75–89 (describing the juvenile
justice teams in more detail.).
49 U.S. BUREAU OF L. STAT., Occupational Outlook Handbook – Probation Officer and Correctional Treatment
Specialists (Dec. 17, 2017), https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-and-correctional-treatment-specialists.htm.
50 Nawa, supra note 5; see also Ginga Tamura, The role of volunteers in helping to rehabilitate criminal, NHK WORLD
(Nov. 1, 2017), https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/newsroomtokyo/features/20171101.html.
51 Ellis & Kyo, supra note 2, at 24.
52 SAN BERNARDINO CTY. PROB. DEP’T, Probation Volunteers, (Apr. 15, 2017),
http://joinprobation.org/VolunteersinProdbation.aspx; Adult Probation Volunteer Program; CIR. CT. OF COOK CTY.,
(Apr. 15, 2017),
53 NAT’L JUV. JUST. NETWORK, Polling on Public Attitudes, (Nov. 2013), http://www.njjn.org/uploads/digital-