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Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

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Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

Number of crimes in Japan falls to postwar low in 2015

Tokyo street
TOKYO — The number of crimes in Japan in 2015 hit a postwar low, the National Police Agency said Thursday, citing an increase in security cameras as well as raised public awareness of crime prevention.

Overall penal code violations decreased 9.3% from the previous year to 1,099,048, falling below the previous record of 1,190,549 set in 1973, the agency said in a preliminary report.

All categories of crimes marked declines from 2014.

The number of thefts, which account for more than 70% of crimes in Japan, dropped to 807,605 from 897,259. Murders fell to 933 from 1,054 with fraud cases down to 39,439 from 41,523.

The crime clearance rate, or the ratio of cases solved by police to total reported crimes, improved to 32.5% from 30.6%, with the ratio for murder and other violent crimes rising to 72.3% from 68.2%, topping 70% for the first time in 16 years.

By age of those subject to police action, the number of juveniles aged between 14 and 19 sharply fell to 39,501 from 142,594 in 2002, when the total number of penal code violations peaked.

That of the elderly aged 65 or older, meanwhile, nearly doubled to 47,643 from the 2002 figure of 24,241, reflecting Japan’s graying society.

Source: Japan Times, January 15, 2016

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