Security, order, and discipline

Security functions are fulfilled by

  • the penitentiary administration
  • private companies

Prisoners are classified according to their supposed level of dangerousness

in some cases

Sentenced prisoners are usually classified, not by security level per say, but by gender, term of imprisonment and inclination toward criminal activities.

Security staff carry


Although prison officers are allowed to use small arms and light weapons such as handguns, they do not usually carry weapons.


  • The last collective movement happened in 2007 at Tokushima Prison, when some prisoners rioted because of ill treatment administered by a prison doctor.

Individual acts of protest are recorded


Breaches of discipline are clearly defined in writing


Disciplinary offences are defined in the internal regulations of each prison.

According to prison administrators, prison officers impose a strict, military-like discipline in order to maintain the security, order, and safety of the institution and its inmates.
The prisoners wear uniforms and are prescribed ways to walk, talk, eat, sit and sleep. Any breach of this discipline is subject to punishment.
Punishment takes many forms; the most common is loss of privileges, such as recreation time, access to TV and loss of more sought-after job assignments. More severe punishment involves sitting on one’s knees on the floor, facing a blank wall, for hours, or even days, though prisoners are returned to their cells at night. During this punishment, the sitting position grows painful, and the isolation is difficult. Limited toilet breaks are allowed, and only at the guards’ discretion.

Disciplinary offences are investigated

in some cases

The decisions to impose disciplinary sanctions lack transparency and fairness.

The decision to apply a disciplinary sanction must be subject to an adversarial debate


Prisoners are allowed to be assisted by a lawyer


Prisoners may appeal against disciplinary sanctions


Complaint procedures can be hard to follow, especially for foreign inmates, and inmates with mental disability.

Solitary confinement can be used as


Solitary confinement is also used regularly by the prison administration.

The duration for placement in solitary confinement is limited

yes: three months

Solitary confinement can be extended


The three-month maximum period can be extended at the end if each month if deemed necessary. Some prisoners condemned to death are held in solitary confinement for decades, although visits by families, lawyers, and others are allowed.

Visits by families, lawyers, and others are allowed.