13 Nagoya Prison Officers Referred to Prosecutors over Assaults

Nagoya, April 27 (Jiji Press)—A prison in Aichi Prefecture, central Japan, referred 13 of its officers to public prosecutors on Friday over alleged violence against inmates.

The Nagoya District Public Prosecutors Office will conduct investigations to determine whether to indict the officers, aged from 21 to 37.

The Justice Ministry announced disciplinary measures for 33 people working at Nagoya Prison, including the 13 officers. The 33 people included prison chief Gakuji Nakata, who was given a severe reprimand.

The 13 officers are suspected of assaulting three inmates at the prison in Miyoshi between March and August 2022. Of the officers, a 25-year-old prison guard allegedly injured the head of an inmate by pulling him through the food hatch of a prison cell.

Ninety-nine cases of violence were confirmed. The prison guard and two others were suspended for six months for conducting violence 14 to 29 times, and they all resigned.

Seven officers were suspended for three to two months, while three faced pay cuts for three months. Some of them forced an inmate to kneel on the ground and apologize or to take a drug covered with dirt.

Most of the 13 officers were in their 20s, but one of them was a high-ranking prison guard aged 37.

Also, there were over 300 cases of verbal abuse, including death threats, and silent treatment of inmates since November 2021. In addition to the 13 officers, nine others were given warnings or reprimanded severely for treating inmates inappropriately.

Three officers were given cautions for failing to report assaults or injuries they were aware of to their superiors. Eight senior officers, including Nakata, were held accountable for their supervisory responsibilities.

The assaults and inappropriate treatment focused on an inmate in his 60s. Many of 22 officers who were involved in the acts said they were frustrated because the inmate did not listen to what they said.

Some of them said the incidents were just prank or that they wanted to feel superior.

The ministry is considering studying the cause of the violence and how to prevent any recurrence. It will compile a report as early as June.