Nearly 20% of women inmates in Japan’s prisons are seniors

Shoplifting has become something of a lifeline for Japan’s elderly population.

As Bloomberg reports, nearly one in five women in prison is 65 or older. These elderly women commit minor crimes in order to escape poverty and solitude. Often, women are repeat offenders so that they can return to prison once they are released. To serve this group, the government is constructing prison wards specifically for elderly inmates and increasing nursing staff.

A 78-year-old inmate referred to as Ms. O has stolen energy drinks, coffee, tea, a rice ball, and a mango. She told Bloomberg: “Prison is an oasis for me—a place for relaxation and comfort. I don’t have freedom here, but I have nothing to worry about, either. There are many people to talk to. They provide us with nutritious meals three times a day.”