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Oklahoma | I went inside death row, what I saw made me sick - Henry McLeish

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The evolution of civilised behaviour, indicating a retreat from barbarism, has become a distinctive feature of most modern western democracies, but America often disappoints, retaining practices that shock, sadden, and in my case, nearly made me physically sick.
My visit to death row at McAlester State Penitentiary, Oklahoma, brought home to me, how the final setting for government sponsored killings, combined with execution by lethal injection, brought a brutal end to lives. And made a mockery of the idea of justice, offering instead a violent, humiliating, and inhuman act of revenge, with no serious pretence that any of these end of life dramas, provide any deterrence in criminal justice terms. Formerly known as “Indian Territory”, and home of the Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma, with a population of over 4 million, became a state in 1907. Located in America’s “Bible” belt, where there is a strong fundamentalist Christian tradition and powerful Republican politics, Oklahoma remains a pro…

Japan: 129 inmates remain on death row

Execution chamber at Tokyo Detention Center
TOKYO — Japan’s prisons had 129 inmates on death row as of Dec 26, according to a Justice Ministry report.

The ministry said that there were three executions in June and August, while five death-row inmates died of illnesses, including a 92-year-old man, TV Asahi reported Sunday.

A man believed to be the world’s longest-serving death row inmate, Iwao Hakamada, 78, was freed in March after the Shizuoka District Court ordered a fresh trial over the grisly 1966 murder of his boss and the man’s family.

Human rights group Amnesty International has criticized Japan’s use of capital punishment for being “shrouded in secrecy.”

Japan and the United States are the only major industrialised democracies to carry out capital punishment, a practice that has led to repeated protests from European governments and human rights groups.

International advocacy groups say the Japanese system is cruel because death row inmates can wait for their executions for many years in solitary confinement and are only told of their impending death a few hours ahead of time.

Source: Japan Today, December 29, 2014

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