22 Nagoya prison officers suspected of repeatedly assaulting inmates

Jiji Press file photo
Nagoya Prison in Aichi Prefecture

Tokyo (Jiji Press) — The Justice Ministry said Friday that 22 correction officers are suspected of repeatedly assaulting three inmates at Nagoya Prison in Aichi Prefecture.

“We want to apologize sincerely to the inmates,” Justice Minister Ken Saito told a hurriedly held press conference. “We are conducting a thorough investigation and will deal strictly with the matter.”

Noting that fatal assaults on inmates happened at the prison in the central prefecture in the past, Saito said, “It is regrettable that similar misconduct has recurred at the same prison.”

According to the ministry, the officers in question are believed to have slapped the faces and hands of the inmates in their 40s to 60s, sprayed sanitizers at their faces and smacked their behinds with sandals between November 2021 and late August this year.

Correction officer violence came to light when one inmate in his 60s attributed an injury near his left eye to an officer’s rough treatment.

Further investigation pointed to the possibility of 22 officers in total being involved in the violence cases. Of them, five are in their 30s and 17 in their 20s, most having less than three years of experience on the job.

During the ministry’s probe, almost all admitted to using violence against the inmates, saying they were disobeying instructions, screaming and making repeated demands.

At the prison, located in the city of Miyoshi, a 43-year-old inmate died after being blasted with water from a fire hose in 2001. The following year, another inmate, then 49, died after a leather restraining belt was tied around his abdomen.