Even though I live in America, a country with a questionable (to say the least) justice system, the Japanese justice system sometimes seems much more harsh (just take a look at Japanese drugs laws).

But the more I learn about the death penalty in Japan, the ultimate punishment in the Japanese justice system, the more I’m upset by what I hear. For one, Japan is one of the few developed countries in the world to still carry out the death penalty.

Sure, the number of executions that Texas alone carries out dwarfs Japan’s, but I’d wager to say that the path to execution in Japan is much more opaque and convoluted than it is here in the USA.

In the US there are a lot of safeguards for the death penalty in a lot of states. Long series of appeals often makes a death sentence a decades-long legal battle in America; but in Japan, the path to execution is a lot straighter, shorter, and simpler.

The Trial

For one, trial by jury, a fundamental element of the American justice system, doesn’t exist the in the same way in Japan. Jury duty might seem like a pain to a lot of Americans, but it’s still an important part of civic life and lets ordinary people be involved in the system.

It wasn’t until very recently (2009) that the Japanese implemented any sort of system where ordinary people helped judge criminal cases, and it’s a lot more complicated than America’s trial by jury system.

In America, there’s one judge and a jury; in Japan, there are a total of nine judges: three are professional judges and six are lay judges, ordinary people picked to sit in.

Confused yet? It gets even more complicated: a verdict can only be reached if a majority with at least one member from each group comes to a consensus, and these lay judges are only used for certain types of cases.

And the principles of presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt that are so important in the American justice system aren’t considered as much in the Japanese system.

If you’re prosecuted for a crime in Japan, then you’ll almost certainly be convicted. Japan has over a 99% conviction rate, which leads to pretty lousy chances of being found innocent. It’s apparently pretty common for Japanese defense lawyers to have only a handful of victories under their belts during the course of their careers.

How do the Japanese achieve such a high conviction rate? A large part of it is long and intense interrogations that prisoners go through, which leads to lots of confessions. Unfortunately, if you interrogate anybody for that long, they’ll say pretty much whatever you want, meaning a lot of those confessions are false.

The Escapist has a really interesting write-up about how Phoenix Wright accurately represents the Japanese justice system with surprising accuracy, if you’re into that.

But once a suspect is convicted and receives a death sentence, things go from bad to worse. Turns out, death row isn’t as cool as Suge Knight made it out to be.

The Execution

In the US, press and officials often witness the execution, and the prisoner gets last rites, last words, and a last meal (unless somebody ruins it for everybody).

Photo by Peter Thody

Executions in Japan are a lot less ceremonial and predictable. Convicts on death row usually don’t know when they’ll be executed until a few hours beforehand, and their families might only find out after the fact.

To this day, Japan’s method of execution is hanging, a practice that seems almost primitive compared to the more humane options for execution practiced in other parts of the world.


The picture seems kind of bleak, but things are (believe it or not) looking up. A series of legal reforms in the mid-2000s added the lay judges mentioned earlier, and human rights advocates in Japan and across the world have been making their voices heard. Several former Japanese Justice Ministers have rallied against the death penalty and even refused to sign execution warrants.

For the over 100 prisoners on Japan’s death row, there’s still hope.

Read More: Japanese Officials Reveal Execution Chambers, Japan Housewives May Judge Killers as Lawyers Condemn Hangings, Just plead guilty and die

  • Federale

    Hope to have more murders? Hope to save murders from execution?

  • Ruben

    Definitely a dark side, Japan shouldn’t be proud of this !
    Such a beautiful country, peaceful, and still the opinion that death row has many advantages.

    Here in Belgium (no deathrow), there is also a tradition to use ordinary people to help the judges. However everything is considered: mental health of the prisoner,… no doubt that’s a good thing. But the disadvantage is that only the worst murderers go to prison for life. If you kill one person and you’re known as a good guy who just went crazy because of that annoying person, you have a descent chance to be free at the end of the trial. (sometimes that’s no justice either)

    Justice is realy like scales ! No matter what, if “the scales” of the system tip too extreme to one side, it’s no good ! But that’s only my opinion ;)

  • 古戸ヱリカ

    I’d like to see the results of a murder getting executed. Sounds extra gruesome.

  • Mi

    Every day if the prisoners are alive past 10am (or 8am, I forgot)then they can live another day. The prison doesn’t tell them when they are going to be executed. So every day the prisoners live in fear never knowing when it is they are going to die. If the prisoners hear footsteps before 10am then they know its their day to die. They prisoners don’t have any interactions with each other so a lot of them go crazy. They also have barely any interactions with the guards. They are not allowed to move in their cells. When the prisoner is executed the prison doesnt tell the family. The only way to know if the prisoner died is when the family sends him/her a letter and it gets send back to the house telling them that this person no longer lives there. The day of the execution, there are 3 guards who push a button to let the floor drop so that the inmate choke to death, but only one of those button is the real button so that the guards can go home thinking maybe it wasnt them who killed the prisoner. They use the hanging method because thats the way the States used to kill criminals back in th 40s, so they thought that that must be the right way of killing someone. The States always criticize them of having the deathrow but they always defend themselves in saying, if the states wont eradicate their death penalty, then we wont either. Also the majority of the Japanese population don’t know the way the death penalty is carried out. They know its by hanging but thats it. etc….I took a class on this last year in Japan, learned a lot.

  • Tokyo-Ben

    I’m assuming one of those death row prisoners is the guy who killed 7 people with a truck and knife in Akihabara many years ago. I’m not going to say the death penalty is the only solution, but I’m not sure it would be right for him to spend the rest of his life in a cushy Japanese prison.

  • Hashi

    Almost as bad as a killer getting executioner.

  • Hashi

    Yes, the man behind the Akihabara massacre was put to death; although from what I know about Japanese prisons, they’re anything but “cushy.”

  • Pepper_the_Sgt

    Wow. Didn’t really know any of this. I’m absolutely baffled that HANGING is the method of execution. And that conviction rate is unnerving.

  • neu

    So with a 99% conviction rate, why didn’t that cannibal get convicted? Apparently he wasn’t interrogated enough >.>

  • Jay S.

    Interesting cause I remember several years ago Sendai broke off “Sister City” relations with Dallas in protest of Texas’ executions. Or, at least that’s the explanation I was given.

  • 古戸ヱリカ

    Wasn’t it because he was found innocent in France, and then the French government didn’t give the Japanese government any of the evidence, or something? Anyways, I hope something eats him. Circle of life, and all that.

  • Hashi

    The cannibal, AFAIK, wasn’t convicted because he was tried first in France and claimed insanity, so he was let off and deported back to Japan. The Japanese either couldn’t try him because it wasn’t in Japanese jurisdiction (since the crime happened in France) or the French considered the case closed and wouldn’t send Japanese prosecutors the evidence. I forget which.

  • ZXNova

    I’ve played Phoenix Wright games and it seems like an odd but almost realistic representation of the Japanese legal system. Now this article is saying that representation is pretty accurate. I say, that’s very interesting.

  • Loki

    I think I am fairly liberal in my views, but I just cannot understand people who oppose the death penalty.

    Anyone that forgoes their rights and CHOOSES to commit a crime that should warrant an extended sentence (think of something that is 10+ years) does not deserve to live in my eyes. It’s not like they just tripped and accidentally robbed a bank, raped someone, what have you. They made a conscious decision to commit a crime. If that crime puts them in prison for an extended period of time, they not only become a burden to the tax payers, but they also will have an incredibly difficult, if not impossible time reintegrating into society.

    Now there are some people that genuinely reform themselves while they are in prison and when they get out they try to make the best of it. But let’s face facts, most criminals are repeat offenders. So I must ask, why should someone that is CONTINUOUSLY choosing to thumb their nose at the chances they have been given and purposely CHOOSING to habitually commit crimes deserve to live? I see it as cut and dry. Anything that nets you a sentence of 15 years or longer should automatically equate to the death penalty. And I don’t mean this waiting on death row malarky that we see now. I mean, no appeals, no waiting, just after the trial is over you have 2 hours to say your goodbyes and then you are summarily executed.

    Murderers do not deserve a second chance. Ever. Nor do rapists or child molesters. It is easy for human rights activists to jump on the side of the criminal that is sentenced with the death penalty, but I often wonder if they are even considering the fact that the person did something so heinous that they are being put to death. Do the even think about the victims of this criminal? It doesn’t seem to me that they do. And as I said, these people that get life in prison (I am pretty sure Japan doesn’t do life sentencing, but in the countries that do have it) are a MASSIVE burden to the tax payers.

    I firmly believe that if the death penalty were actually put to use more fervently, you would see a drop in crime. My logic is that criminals would think twice if they knew they were going to be summarily executed for their crime. Even if that doesn’t work, the executions would certainly reduce crime rates by not allowing these same criminals a chance to get out into society again and commit another crime.

    Some may argue that the whole point of the prison system is for people to be reformed and learn from their mistakes and that the prison system is flawed. Sure it is, what system created by humans isn’t flawed in some way, shape or form? The simple fact of the matter is that most criminals learn how to become better criminals while they are in prison.

    Now for the people that actually do get released, I think that they should be relocated. A lot of the factors that often lead people repeating their crimes is the environment they are in. So if some criminal is arrested and does time in a place like NY, upon release they should be forced to move to somewhere like Iowa or some other state where absolutely nothing is going on. I think it would be an interesting study to conduct. Anyhow, we need to kill more criminals.

  • Shollum

    I hate to sound like a cruel person, but I disagree with a lot of this.

    First off, hanging is one of the swiftest, most effective, and cheapest executions that can be carried out without covering them in explosives (which loses the cheap part of it) as long as it’s done correctly. Most people’s idea of hanging is the cruel lynch mob style of using a short rope. A short rope will strangle a person to death, but a long rope will swiftly break their neck. A gallows only has to be built once, it doesn’t require a team of medical professionals, and it’s done way faster than lethal injection. It also takes less people to operate, reducing the horrific ptsd that executioners can develop.

    Second, I’m for the death penalty in some cases. Japan may not be using it in the best way, but neither is the US. I don’t want to pay money to feed a man who murdered and raped people. I don’t want him to be alive at all. Some people just can’t be fixed and the whole point of jail and prison is to ‘teach a lesson’ though it clearly teaches the wrong one since most people who end up in prison are repeat offenders. I think the possibility of death is a better deterrent than an all expenses paid trip to bumming off the rest of the country, where theirs a good chance they’ll get to do the same things they did out in society until they get caught.

    While Japans justice system may suck, those two things above are not the things that suck about it. The process of deciding punishment needs fixing, but the punishment itself is quite efficient and effective (if you ask me).

    Anyway, that’s my rant. I’m sure most of y’all don’t agree with me, but the next time you hear about some heinous crime where the accused is most certainly guilty of it, I’m sure you’ll agree with me, if for just that one instant. However, that one instant is being replayed around the country, and here, being sentenced to execution is about the same as getting a life sentence.

  • Reptic

    Personally I don’t really have a stance for or against the death penalty, but I have read some anti-death penalty opinions online, so I can explain a bit about their point of view since you say you can’t understand it.

    First off, a lot of people seem to think it’s barbaric. Now, personally, I don’t necessarily agree, however if we did increase the death penalty rate to what you want, I think it would be somewhat barbaric. Even the last line of your post screams barbarism with it’s insistence that we need to “kill more criminals.” I only needed to get to the end of the word “more” before starting to feel a bit uncomfortable.

    Second of all, there is a big fear among the anti-death penalty people that an innocent person could be killed. This is a legitimate concern and does not seem impossible at all. It’s common knowledge that there are plenty of cases of the wrong person being convicted. Just google “innocent man convicted” and you will get a bunch of results talking about this subject, and yes, many of them were sentenced to more than 15 years of prison.

    Here’s just one example:

    Also, there are a lot of non violent crimes that can get you more than fifteen years of prison. Do those people deserve to die too? Sure you could say, “Oh, they stole, they’re scum who deserve death.” But think about this: many people steal, usually in the form of pirating music, movies, games, etc. on the internet. If normal, healthy citizens are capable of this, how far off is it to get a bit carried away and steal something larger, especially when you think it’s easy and you can get away with it (which is basically why people pirate to begin with). From this point of view, I certainly don’t believe these people deserve to die.

    I’m sure there are a lot more arguments that could be mentioned by actual anti-death penalty people, but I think this is good enough to help you understand the opposite point of view somewhat.

  • Emi

    From the first paragraph alone, I will seriously have to re-think ever visiting Japan.

  • Loki

    You make some fair points. As far as the innocent person being put to death, talk to anyone in prison and you will find that they are all innocent. My main hangup with this basically boils down to people getting these ridiculously long sentences just do not deserve to live in my eyes. They are a massive drain on taxpayers and their actions clearly state that they do not wish to abide by the rules of society.

    To address the issue of people getting excessive terms/fines for things like you mentioned (pirating music, etc.) I strongly disagree with the massively unbalanced punishments some of these people are being subject to. Look at countries like Canada and most countries in Europe and you will see just how corrupt the US systems are. Here is the information for how Canada is going to go about it now.

    And how America deals with the issue

    The punishment does not fit the crime. But I stick by what I said, if the person were a repeat offender (even of something so trivial) and they somehow got themselves life in prison, they should be executed. Life in prison serves no purpose other than to drain taxpayer money. No matter what they are in for, if it is a life sentence or something so long that it might as well be life, the person just cannot reintegrate into society. There are the few cases (think hackers) of people who actually are able to turn their infamy into a profession (think IT security professional), but generally this is not the case.

    As far as I am aware, most of America applies a 3 strikes policy (I may be mistaken about the states that apply this). This policy says 3 felonies and you are in prison for life. If you are given 3 chances and you throw them away, why should you deserve to live? I just don’t think that a person that habitually commits crime deserves to live.

    What non-violent crimes can you think of that can land you more than 15 years in prison?

  • Wo

    It’s pretty awful, yeah. Spending years on death row, knowing that any day could be your last, is enough to send anyone over the edge. Although a few things I’d like to add–the prisoners don’t choke to death, as hanging works by having a drop (based on the prisoner’s weight–they alter the rope length or whatever each time for each person) which causes the neck to break, killing them pretty much instantly. Choking to death, on the other hand, takes several minutes. The idea isn’t to reduce suffering so much as to increase efficiency. Press a button, the guy falls, and you can get on with things, rather than wasting a precious few minutes.

    The 3 button thing is interesting (I think they use a different number now, but I’m not certain). They do the same thing with firing squads: tell them that one of them has a gun filled with blanks, so that the executioners can find solace in the chance that they didn’t kill the guy (even if they execute thousands of people over the years, meaning that statistically they had to have killed quite a few). It’s an interesting psychological phenomenon that pops up in a few other occupations, also.

  • Kevin

    Excellent documentary on the death penalty and the many ways it is carried out: “How to Kill a Human Being” (BBC). It looks at death by lethal injection, hanging, gas chamber, firing squad, etc. and compares them based on efficiency, cost, suffering, reliability, and so on. Very interesting stuff. It also brings to light a lot of things about lethal injections which most people don’t know–like how you get two drugs: one is an anaesthetic, so you don’t feel pain as your heart stops etc, and the other is the drug that both kills and paralyses you. But the killing drug takes something like 10 minutes to act, whereas the anaesthetic only lasts around 5 minutes. So for the last 5 minutes, the prisoner is in exquisite pain as his body shuts down, but paralysed and unable to cry out. Works well for everyone watching, but not the poor inmate. And since doctors legally can’t give the injections, the people giving lethal injections stuff up a lot more than you’d want to know, causing all kinds of horrible scenarios. As far as “low suffering” goes, the lethal injection is nowhere near as good as firing squad or hanging, which are more costly or messier, but otherwise don’t torture the poor guy for five minutes as he’s shuffling off his mortal coil.

    Anyway, excellent article. I just wanted to add the point that hanging isn’t as barbaric as the lethal injections used in the USA, at least from the torture/suffering angle.

  • Wok Bit

    Hmm, one of the few Tofugu articles that disappoint. “The picture seems kind of bleak, but things are (believe it or not) looking up.” What rubbish! Hashi, this is obviously a country which has legal precedents you do not agree with. I’d be more interested in knowing what Japanese people’s opinions are on death penalty than yours. I’m sure there are plenty of Japanese people who oppose it, and I’m sure there are plenty who support it, perhaps turn around and point fingers at the insanely high drug use and violent crime rates in the United States. A lot of Chinese people broach that matter when discussing their own defense of death penalty.

    Honestly, I was expecting some sort of comparison with Singapore, which executes drug offenders at the drop of a hat.

  • ジョサイア

    Hes is the reason its not 100% :b

  • Gwen

    I’m actually very, very surprised at how uninformed this article seems – the death penalty isn’t a topic to take on lightly, and this article seems to have been written with mostly just personal opinions and no actual facts to back it up.

    Someone commented above about the lethal injection being an inhumane way of killing someone, and they’re definitely right. I’ve read the same things about it taking a long time for the “killing” drug to kick in, but since they’re outwardly paralyzed, inmates suffer from excruciating pain while it takes effect. Hanging is, actually, one of the better ways of executing somebody. It seems worse because it’s an older practice, I guess. I’m actually really shocked that the US still uses lethal injection with how much evidence there is that it is a horrible way for somebody to die. That is, disregarding the morality of a death penalty in the first place, which as I already saw somebody defending their belief that a death penalty is just, I will not be touching on at all.

    I also read somewhere, someone tell me if they’ve heard this too, that Japan has such a high criminal prosecution rate because there’s only a push for legal action if there’s probable cause/hard evidence, and a very high likelihood of a conviction – why waste court costs/time if you don’t think you’ll get a conviction, is probably their thinking. I guess speculation isn’t the greatest thing, but considering that people get sentenced based on the evidence etc anyway, it does make some sort of sense.

  • rick sheahan

    Between this and the drug article, I never knew that so many Tofugu readers were also hardcore legalists

  • Olga Fedorova

    You are poorly informed. First of all, there have been cases of innocent people wrongly executed even after years of appeals: . Second of all, it is actually more expensive to execute someone that it is to feed and clothe them for the rest of their lives: (I specifically provided you with a link from FoxNews since they are PRO death penalty.

  • Reptic

    Well, according to a government website, manufacturing or selling drugs can get you up to 20 years on first offense, so can possessing child pornography, computer hacking certain government agencies (like anonymous has done), and even stealing/scamming if you manage to get a good amount off of people.

  • 古戸ヱリカ

    That, or hardcore Internet-opinion-havers.

  • Brittney Howdyshell

    Some people who oppose the death penalty just think that we don’t have any right to decide who lives and dies. Life in prison is a pretty terrifying punishment, if you ask me.

  • Shollum

    Killing them only costs more because of the poorly thought out, convoluted process in which they are executed. I could build a gallows with less than a hundred dollars (it only needs to be built a couple of times really) and ammunition only cost a couple bucks per box.

    Also, the thing about paying more doesn’t bother many people. Would you rather pay to keep a murderer alive or pay to kill him. Most people that haven’t been babied into believing in the innate goodness of humans would agree that the criminal should be removed from society.

    Also, a child could come up with a more efficient and possibly even a more just system of determining whether to execute a man and how to carry it out.

  • Hashi

    From what I understand, most of the costs associated with a death sentence case comes from the legal process, not the execution itself. Considering that so many people are exonerated from death row, I think it’s a good thing that the legal process is so long, because it lessens the chances of executing innocent people.

  • Jonadab

    > Japan has over a 99% conviction rate, which leads to
    > pretty lousy chances of being found innocent.

    A couple of points here. First, a 99% conviction rate
    can be obtained in a couple of different ways. The
    Cardassian way is to ignore all evidence and just
    convict everyone who’s even remotely suspected of
    anything. However, it’s also possible, at least in
    theory, for prosecutors to simply decline to take
    people to trial at all if the evidence of their guilt
    is not entirely convincing. In the US this doesn’t
    fly for two reasons. The lesser reason is that our
    elected officials often face political pressure to
    lean on the prosecuting attourney and demand they
    seek justice in the form of a conviction, regardless
    of whether the evidence is strong or not. However,
    the really big issue in the US, the elephant in
    the room, is that juries are known to be quite
    emotional and to frequently rule in an irrational
    manner. This happens in both directions: people
    who are obviously guilty are acquitted, and people
    who very well may not be guilty are convicted.
    (This is why we need so many appeals. Verdicts
    are often overturned by the next court. It’s very
    hard to have much confidence in our legal system
    if you see the statistics on how many appeals do
    not uphold the verdict of the lower court.)

    As for hanging, it may not currently be in vogue
    in most of the US, but it has been a traditional
    method of execution in most of the world (the
    most traditional, arguably) for more than three
    thousand years. The Nazi officials convicted of
    crimes against humanity in connection with WWII
    were hanged, for instance.

    Of course, there are three ways to hang someone.
    You can make the gallows and rope a reasonable
    height and length, resulting in a quick death.
    You can make them ridiculously long and tall,
    resulting in several seconds of terrifying fall
    in anticipation of death. Or you can make the
    whole thing too short, so that the person does
    not die immediately but is slowly strangled to
    death over the course of several minutes as
    he hangs there writhing in agony unable to get
    a breath. For extra bonus cruelty, you can
    even rig it so his toes can just barely touch,
    allowing the doomed to struggle in vain. Now
    THAT is inhumane.

  • JTamayo

    If I were you, I’d just reconsider breaking the law while visiting Japan.

  • JTamayo

    The first issue you mentioned is a problem in every legal system in the world. Until you can propose a way to be 100% certain that all convictions are just, you can’t use that as a reason not to carry out the death penalty. People are also wrongly sentenced to life, and that’s no different.

    Also, the death penalty wouldn’t cost so much if our idiotic system was reformed to allow for faster court processing. The ridiculous court process is what costs so much, not the execution itself, and to be honest, we could cut down on the cost of the execution by using older methods as well. You are the one who is poorly informed.

  • JTamayo

    I don’t know why so many people are so against the way Japan handles it’s criminals. On the topic of capital punishment, I’m more against it than I am for it, but it doesn’t make much of a difference to me which way it goes. On one hand, I’m against the death penalty simply because killing someone doesn’t bring their victim back to life, and it doesn’t undo the psychological damage that has been done to ones who survived. On the other hand, I’m against the ridiculous amount of money allocated to caring for and sustaining a prisoner. I definitely think that no matter what the outcome (whether the death penalty is legal or not), countries like America need to pull their heads out of their asses and stop giving criminals so much luxury in prison.

    When it comes to the way Japan handles it’s legal system, I fully support how strict it is. Japan is an incredibly advanced country in a lot of positive aspects where other countries fall painfully short. The education is stronger, there is more respect and tradition, laws are ACTUALLY ENFORCED, and they won’t bend because other cultures dislike it. I can’t vouch for the morality of each individual law in Japan, but a law is a law and if people make a conscious decision to break it, they can’t complain about the government coming down on them full force.

    Also, on the topic of the high conviction rate — Japan doesn’t jump to conclusions in the court process as implied in the article. It’s a different, smarter legal system that doesn’t dish out tons of tax-payers’ money on cases where there isn’t a decent amount of good evidence.

  • Joseph Goforth

    Hmm, how much of this is a holdover from the postwar US dictating how Japan’s postwar government would work? that system sounds a lot like a military court system, complete with hangings as the capital punishment.

  • bob

    And I hope that the next time you hear of an innocent man murdered by his government, you will agree with me, that the death sentence is misguided.

  • Shollum

    I did say ‘some cases’. You’ll have to forgive my poor composition for that one. Let me clarify; if you can prove beyond reasonable doubt that someone committed a heinous crime (such as murder or rape), then they should be hanged.

    Besides, unlike those crime dramas that love to play around with the idea of innocent men being executed and super clever criminals who lead the cops by the nose, real world criminals are rarely intelligent enough to do such a thing. The very fact that they committed a crime shows a distinct lack of mental capability on their part.

    No, most of the problem is in the court room. While the US has a much better court system than many countries, it’s still filled with outdated practices, redundancies, and a lack of objectivity. The last one is probably the biggest reason for poor sentencing outcomes. People are terrible at judging character.

    And no, I don’t think I’ll ever agree with you. I’d be the executioner myself if no one else was willing. This candy coated view of the world has caused all sorts of problems. There are consequences for actions and people need to know them and respect them. If the death penalty is abolished, then they better make the prisons one step above hell to compensate. Negatively interfering in another person’s life should be punished appropriately.

    So yeah, keep your tongue-in-cheek response to yourself. Disagreement is one thing, but sarcastically replying like that is no way to enter a debate. It makes you look petty and it annoys me.

  • Jeremy Rawley

    You’d have better luck using the guillotine. Which is a faster death–being strung up or having your head cut off?

  • Jeremy Rawley

    Would you keep a child molester, rapist, murderer, or war criminal alive? What about Hitler? You anti-death-penalty advocates are wrong. You need to be re-educated. Certain people don’t have any right to live! They’re not even people–they’re things! Things that don’t deserve to be kept alive on our dime! Why allow them to live? Are you stupid? DEATH PENALTY NOW, DEATH PENALTY FOREVER!

  • Devil Child

    I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as you’re making it out.

    For one, the 99% conviction statistic only sounds bad until you actually take a look at the way a trial gets processed. Take murder, for instance. We arrested 19,000 people for 26,000 murders the past year, prosecuted 75%, and convicted 12,000 people. In Japan, 1,800 people were arrested for 1,300 murders, with a 43% rate of prosecution, and thus conviction.

    When you round out the number of people in the US brought to trial for murder, you have a 63% rate of conviction compared to the Japanese’s 43%: and if you paid further attention to the numbers, you’ll notice that the Japanese arrest more people for murder than there are number of murders. Thus, murders in the US have a 46% chance of being solved, while murders in Japan have a 60% chance of being solved.

    More importantly, Japanese prisons have a reputation for being rough, but not anarchistic. Unlike US or Russian prisons, levels of rape and murder are low, and breakouts, drugs, and weapons are non-existent. The percentage of the population prison is also incredibly low, and the highest focus is placed on rehabilitation. Unless you receive the rarely used death sentence or life without parole, the maximum you can go without applying for parole is 10 years for even the worst criminals, and parole is given often.

    I’d go as far as to say Japan has the best criminal justice system in the world today, and anyone who contests that remark probably thinks Mumia Abu-Jamal was an orphanage builder before cops busted into his house and sentenced him to crucifixion for the murder of Satan.

  • Devil Child

    Seeing as how the British justice system is a complete joke, I’m not particularly interested in hearing the identical incorrect arguments on why the US should stop stopping the clocks on child murderers after the first twelve times I read about British honor killings going unpunished.

  • Jon Walmsley

    When considering the death penalty as a just method of punishment for crimes committed, it is always helpful to consider the most extreme cases of criminal that exist or have existed. Take Anders Breivik, the perpetrator of the 2011 Norway attacks in which he killed a total of 77 people. Here is a mass murderer, a man who single-handedly killed 77 people, with no possibility that he is innocent, who has been psychiatrically diagnosed as perfectly sane and who is also vocally unrepentant for his abominable crimes. Under the Norwegian justice
    system he has been given the maximum penalty of 21 years under ‘preventive detention’ which theoretically also gives the Norwegian state authority to imprison him for life if they believe he still poses a danger to society, and from Breiviks comments at his trial “I would have done it again because offences against my people – and many partisans – are in many ways just as bad”, its most likely he will never be freed.

    Here is man who killed 77 people in cold-blood, wounded another 242 people, and has caused incalculable pain and suffering for the victims of the families leaving emotional wounds that will maybe never heal. Surely, this is a man, if ever there was one, who deserves to be put to death for his crimes?

    Deserves? Probably or indeed most definitely: I think anyone responsible for such crimes, for even taking a single human life or causing so much pain and misery, probably deserves death, just as their victims deserved life, but that doesn’t mean we have any right to deal out such a punishment.

    He may deserve death, he may deserve physical pain and suffering commensurable with his crimes but what right do we have, in the name of justice, to take that life, just as the criminal took life. In the name of feelings of hate and revenge it is more than understandable that we should wish death upon him, but such feelings, such extreme emotions should not inform
    justice systems, as whilst they are obviously understandable as responsive emotions towards his crimes, especially from those most directly affected, if we were to let them inform our actions in the name of justice, we would only undermine what sets us apart from people just like Breivik, from people like who him who were fuelled with hate and extreme animosity towards others, for whatever reason. A journalist at the guardian exemplifies my point well “Personally I would have no objection to Breivik being put to death in a public square for the atrocity of his crimes. But on the day of this verdict, I am also proud to live in a country where my want for revenge does not define the judicial system.”

    That’s what sets us apart, that’s why the death penalty is inexcusable, because not only does it resort to methods (that is, taking someone’s life) that the criminal used (assuming they did commit a murder of course) it only inherently engenders more hatred, more animosity of one form or another, as all vindictive or resentful killing does, and that’s the key. Justifying capital punishment punitively, for reasons of its perceived societal benefits misses its inherent ideological problems as can trying to denounce it for similar circumstantial reasons alone no matter how significant, i.e. taxpayer costs or the possibility of innocent people being executed. Its inherent problems actually get at the core of what makes humans, in a more general sense, morally, ethically and spiritually imperfect beings and that is the constant internal conflict between our inherent duality of negative (hatred, anger, greed etc) with the positive (compassion, love, humility etc) and the balancing act we perform to keep everything on a even keel.

    People like Breivik have always existed and will always exist, but killing them is not the answer. At the moment, imprisoning them for life and ‘banning’ them from society whilst leaving reformation a possibility, no matter how slim, seems to be our best answer so far, but truthfully I don’t know if it the best answer to dealing with criminals of any kind. I too question the effectiveness of incarceration in reforming criminals but it is a difficult problem to solve, or at least, to make less of a problem, as balancing the punitive needs with reformative
    intentions isn’t easy.

    One small consolation in all this is the knowledge that Breivik himself was disappointed with the verdict of his trial – “There are only two just and fair outcomes of this trial – acquittal or capital
    punishment. I consider 21 years of prison as a pathetic punishment.” Asked if he wanted the court to give him the death penalty, he replied: “No, but I would have respected it. I would not recognise 21 years of prison, it’s ridiculous.” – BBC News.

    Don’t misinterpret this quote as being from someone who believes they deserve death out of a sense of guilty conscious; as detailed earlier, Breivik was and still is unrepentant for his crimes, this quote only reveals further his own extremist views and twisted sense of justice, and seeing
    capital punishment as just is I believe such a distortion. The fact he respects such methods of punishment (even though he doesn’t believe he should be punished) only really confirms what I’ve been saying. That’s not to say its Breiviks respect of capital punishment which means we should by necessity condemn it, far from it, that would only be validating Breivik himself. Rather
    I’m saying that his respect for it only reinforces the point I was making about its inherent problems in engendering hate and animosity across the board. Breivik is obviously an extreme case and I’m not equating those who justify capital punishment and yet are morally upright people to Breivik at all, I’m just saying that the feelings of extreme hatred and animosity Breivik possessed and that fuelled his atrocities are the same ones that capital punishment, by its very
    nature, can and most often does engender in others, and that its only natural that Breivik would respect something as patently unjust as capital punishment, not because of how unjust it is (he wouldn’t believe it was) but because of what it represents ideologically speaking, and that is something filled with hate, something all of us could do without.