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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: Man sentenced to death for killing 5 neighbors on Awaji Island

Gallows trap door, Tokyo Detention Center, Japan
Gallows trap door, Tokyo Detention Center, Japan
KOBE — A court sentenced a 42-year-old man to death Wednesday for killing five people on Awaji Island in western Japan in 2015.

The defendant Tatsuhiko Hirano’s mental condition was “normal” when he carried out the killings, Presiding Judge Hidenori Nagai said in handing down the ruling at the Kobe District Court. 

Hirano’s lawyers immediately appealed the ruling.

The focus of the trial was whether Hirano was mentally competent enough to be held responsible for his actions. He had argued during the trial that the case was a “false accusation plotted by ‘operatives’ who destroyed my brain and forced me to commit the murders.”

His lawyers, who had sought acquittal or a lesser punishment, had said he was unable to make normal decisions because of a psychotropic drug he had been taking.

Hirano was accused of fatally stabbing five neighbors with a knife in two separate homes in Sumoto, Hyogo Prefecture, on March 9, 2015. 

The victims were three women and two men aged between 59 and 84.

He was committed to hospital in 2005 and 2010 after being judged by local authorities to be a danger to the public due to mental illness.

The prosecutors, in seeking capital punishment, highlighted the fact that “he took the lives of five people who did nothing wrong.”

Pointing to the brutality of the case and the numerous stab wounds on the victims, they said the influence of the psychotropic drug the defendant had been using for a long time was “limited.”

Source: Japan Today, March 23, 2017

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