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Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases

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ROME — Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases because it is “an attack” on the “dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a definitive shift in Roman Catholic teaching that could put enormous pressure on lawmakers and politicians around the world.
Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in an address to Congress — added the change to the Catechism, the collection of beliefs for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The revision says the church would work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
“I think this will be a big deal for the future of the death penalty in the world,” said John Thavis, a Vatican expert and author. “People who work with prisoners on death row will be thrilled, and I think this will become a banner social justice issue for the church,” he added.
Sergio D’Elia, the secretary of Hands Off Cain, an association that works to abolish capital puni…

Photos flash spotlight on everyday lives of prisoners in Japan

Tokyo Detention Center
A weeklong photo exhibition being held next month will aim to shed light on the everyday lives of inmates of Japanese prisons and promote public awareness about the challenges the country's criminal justice system faces.

Around 60 photos, which were taken by 6 photography majors of Tokyo Polytechnic University with permission of the Justice Ministry, will be displayed at Hibiya Library & Museum in Hibiya Park, central Tokyo, from April 1 to 7.

The students visited 6 penal detention facilities in and around the capital to take photos of the daily routines of prisoners and correctional officers as part of the Japan Social Justice Project, which was initiated by a Japanese human rights group and the University of Reading in Britain.

Maiko Tagusari, secretary general of the Center for Prisoners' Rights, says the project promotes public awareness about the methods of criminal rehabilitation as well as whether capital punishment should be maintained or terminated, among other issues.

"It was a rare opportunity for ordinary citizens to take photos from inside prisons so people will know what prisons are, and we expect the photos will inspire the public to start serious debates on how the criminal justice should be," said Tagusari, who is also a Tokyo-based lawyer.

The upcoming photo exhibition, which offers free admission, will mark the launch of "CrimeInfo" -- a website for the social justice project which is subsidized by the European Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Tagusari said.

CPR, which receives inquiries from inmates, has worked for more than 20 years for improving their circumstances.

On the website, the CPR and the British university plan to introduce statistics on the numbers of executions or parolees, as well as other various documents, such as books, research papers and news stories for the use of researchers and journalists.

"We will also provide file footage relating to the criminal justice system and records of the justice minister's press conferences," Tagusari said.

The file footage is expected to be used as educational material, particularly for high school students to deepen their understanding about Japan's criminal justice system.

Seiya Matsumura, a senior, was among the six who photographed the prisons. Most of his photos thus far have focused on day laborers and people living in severely ostracized "buraku" districts as well as the northeastern Japan areas affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster.

"Before visiting the prisons, I thought they would be a place like they're depicted on TV and in the movies, under stone-cold surroundings with many former delinquents," Matsumura, 22, said.

"But at a female prison, for example, an old woman was walking with the support of prison guards, and it made me wonder if she really committed a crime and if it is really a correctional facility. I confused the prison with a welfare institution."

Matsumura said he noticed the prisons were insufficient in terms of adequate standards of living, such as providing proper heating and cooling facilities.

"While it is a punishment for them to have their freedom taken away, they should be guaranteed the same level of living conditions as the general public even at prisons," Matsumura said. "Their food, however, looked better than what college students living alone like me eat."

His photos include a community cell, a carpenter shop and female prisoners being trained to cut hair.

The URL of the upcoming website of Japan Social Justice Project is http://crimeinfo.jp/

The website will grow as the project members will continuously upload further information to it.

Source:  Japan Today, Keiji Hirano, March 28, 2018


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