Last updated: 17 Feb 2023
The Ministry of Justice, Japan Social Impact Bond (SIB) was set up in 2021 to provide learning support for juvenile parolees. This is the first SIB commissioned by the Japanese central government.
Juvenile training school parolees wishing to pursue further education
In Japan, around 1,700 juveniles are released annually from juvenile training schools and then transferred to parole supervision in community settings, out of whom about 75% seek employment. Although unemployment status in the community setting is known to increase the risk for reoffending, there already exists a number of mechanisms for supporting juvenile training school parolees into employment. Japan's Public Employment Security Office aid young delinquents with their job search, and more informally, there are more and more employers who have become less apprehensive about hiring those with criminal records.
In contrast, the remaining 25% who wish to pursue higher education or return to school after their release have historically faced significant barriers. While juvenile training schools provide tutoring and exam guidance for upper secondary school equivalency examinations, more than 70% of them have not been admitted to schools upon their release1. While they can obtain support from volunteers in the community setting, they do not receive the same level of education that they would have received in educational establishments.
Obstacles to juvenile delinquents’ access to education is a compounded by broader issues they face in their lives. More than 80% of juvenile delinquents have faced academic difficulties in the past, with those who have been in juvenile training schools experiencing higher level of school maladjustment and interpersonal alienation within the school. In addition, it is found that those experiencing family conflicts are more likely to have poor academic and employment outcomes after their release. As a result, many find it challenging to continue their studies on their own due to the lack of a supportive environment, which dampens their motivation.
The Japanese Ministry of Justice has launched a 3-year Social Impact Bond (SIB) Programme with an aim to provide learning support for juvenile parolees in 2021. This is the first SIB commissioned by the Japanese central government.
The programme offers seamless learning support from the same service providers for a period of up to 1 year, beginning while the delinquents are still in training schools. The service providers develop a tailored support plan and offer in-person and online lessons to help young delinquents develop basic academic skills and study habits, with an aim to facilitate independent study. To complement this academic support, the providers also offer career guidance for participants and their parents.
As a result of planning competitive bidding, the consortium of 3 providers has been selected: Kumon Co., Ltd Kizuki Co., Ltd and Mofumofunet (NPO). Kumon, the leading provider, is an educational service company with a long history of practice, providing support for 3.72 million learners (total number of learners in all subjects) in over 50 countries worldwide, including in juvenile training schools. The company had also been delivered services in previous SIBs programmes launched by local authorities and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Kumon provides materials and bring expertise and their tested learning methods, while Kizuki and Mofumofunet will assist with tailored educational and psychological support for each participant.
The first cohort of participants is engaged in the programme, and no results are currently available
The primary outcome of this SIB is reduction in recidivism, measured by reconviction rate within one year. In addition to this standard metric, psychological indicators feature as outcome metric to understand whether intervention needs have been reduced through the provision of a set of support made available for the young participants and their family members. This will be measured through 22-item Youth Needs and Progress Scale (YNPS), a scale designed to identify the need for risk-related interventions for young sexual offenders. A subsection (16 items) of YNPS will be used for participants with other types of criminal records. These criminological indicators measure key attributes including self-confidence and self-esteem, commitment to school and work, trust in support of adults around them, and emotional management.
The impact of this SIB will be measured by 6 metrics, split into 3 process indicators and 3 outcome indicators.
Outcomes Contract Signed
Start date of service provision
Anticipated end date of service provision
In this SIB programme, participants regularly undergo a multidimensional assessment. This approach builds upon the lessons from the Peterborough SIB pilot in the UK, and takes a step further in standardising the metric for outcomes measurement. In the Peterborough pilot, existing services were frequently reviewed against the needs reported by participants, allowing adaptation of the intervention model to address the unmet needs.
The standardised tool can provide tangible and quantified indications of the challenges faced and how they can be overcome. In effect, these quantified metrics serve as a common language for stakeholders involved. They are helpful not only for practitioners, but also for investors who are not familiar with the terminology in the criminal justice field. The quantitative assessment can be further complimented by qualitative evaluation through interviews with participants, their family members and volunteers to provide in-depth insights of the programme.
For juvenile training school parolees, release from a juvenile training school is only the beginning of the rehabilitation journey. They face unanticipated issues as their personal situations evolve quickly, obstructing their rehabilitation efforts. Indeed, around 30% of newcomers in juvenile training schools are suspected of having a mental disorder. Despite these complex challenges, volunteers and small-scale organisations who have historically been involved in providing professional support for socially vulnerable people often lack adequate funding for sustaining their activities.
Unlike traditional methods of commissioning that tend to be restrictive, SIBs provide the flexibility of funding. Linking payment to process indicators ensure that this flexibility is effectively leveraged by incentivising collaborative learning among stakeholders. As education service providers are required to adjust the learning plans based on newly identified risks and changing circumstances of each individual, the mechanism that combines the SIB’s flexible funding with process indicators can facilitate continuous improvement of the quality-of-service delivery, while addressing the financing needs of small professional organisations.
For further information on the Ministry of Justice Japan SIB pilot, you can contact Reiji Ikeda, Tokyo Probation Office, Ministry of Justice of Japan at email@example.com