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Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

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In our Explainer series, Fair Punishment Project lawyers help unpackage some of the most complicated issues in the criminal justice system. We break down the problems behind the headlines - like bail, civil asset forfeiture, or the Brady doctrine - so that everyone can understand them. Wherever possible, we try to utilize the stories of those affected by the criminal justice system to show how these laws and principles should work, and how they often fail. We will update our Explainers monthly to keep them current. Read our updated explainer here.
To beat the clock on the expiration of its lethal injection drug supply, this past April, Arkansas tried to execute 8 men over 1 days. The stories told in frantic legal filings and clemency petitions revealed a deeply disturbing picture. Ledell Lee may have had an intellectual disability that rendered him constitutionally ineligible for the death penalty, but he had a spate of bad lawyers who failed to timely present evidence of this claim -…

Japan: Top court upholds death sentence for killer of two women

Tokyo street, Japan
CRIME JUL. 22, 2016 - 10:40AM JST ( 8 ) TOKYO — The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an appeal from a man who was sentenced to death in 2013 for murdering the mother and grandmother of a woman he had been stalking.

Gota Tsutsui, 31, from Kuwana in Mie Prefecture, was convicted of stabbing to death Mitsuko Yamashita, 56, and her mother, Hisae Yamashita, 77, in the back of their minivan outside their home in Saikai, Nagasaki Prefecture, on Dec 16, 2011. The victims were the mother and grandmother of Tsutsui’s former girlfriend.

Prior to the murders, Tsutsui sent 17 emails to the woman’s relatives threatening to kill them if they interfered with his efforts to get back together with his ex-girlfriend.

Tsutsui admitted to killing the two women when he was arrested but during his trial, he changed his plea to not guilty, claiming the police had coerced him to confess, Fuji TV reported. However, the Nagasaki District Court sentenced him to death.

The Supreme Court ruled that Tsutsui’s confession was credible and finalized the death sentence.

The case gained notoriety when it was revealed that Chiba prefectural police failed to act on a complaint against the stalker and went off on a holiday.

After the murders, the National Public Safety Commission reprimanded 20 police officers at Chiba police headquarters, and at Narashino police station, where the complaint was filed.

The court heard that Tsutsui had been warned twice by Chiba police and was already under investigation for assaulting Mitsuko Yamashita’s then 23-year-old daughter.

The girl’s father, Makoto Yamashita, first contacted Chiba police on Oct 29, 2011, to alert them to the violence, following which Tsutsui was given a warning by police. Tsutsui continued to harass the girl by telephone and email and was again warned by police to leave her alone. Investigators said Tsutsui promised not to contact her again and went back to Mie.

Yamashita and his daughter visited police in person on Dec 6, 2011, to file charges against Tsutsui for assault. However, the police told him they were busy with “more urgent cases” and asked him to come back the following week. Twelve officers then went on a three-day trip to Hokkaido.

In its initial investigation into the case, Chiba prefectural police omitted references to the leisure trip but were forced to acknowledge it after local media revealed the details.

After the murders, Makoto told media that the Chiba police were unfit to call themselves an organization that protects the public. He also called Tsutsui “the worst example of humanity.”

Six lay judges and three professional judges heard the case in 2013.

Source: Japan Today, July 22, 2016


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

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