USA | Parkland Case Challenges Us All to Figure Out What a Mass Murderer Deserves

The ongoing sentencing trial of Nikolas Cruz, the 23-year-old Florida man who in 2018 murdered fourteen students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day, will test whether the seven men and five women on the jury hearing his case can hate the sin but muster the courage to spare the life of the sinner. That is exactly what his defense team is asking them to do as they sit in judgment of the person who perpetrated one of this country’s most brutal mass murders. Like many death penalty defense lawyers before them, Cruz’s lawyers, to their credit, have not downplayed the gravity of the horrors their client inflicted in Parkland, Florida. Instead, during the sentencing trial, or what the journalist Dahlia Lithwick once called a “trial of the heart,” they have focused their attention on who Cruz is and the factors that shaped his life. As the Supreme Court said more than fifty years ago, in capital cases those who impose the sentence must consider “

Japan | Death-row inmate sues government over ban on colored-pencils at detention centers

TOKYO -- A death-row inmate convicted of murder who has been drawing pictures using colored pencils and selling them to recompense bereaved relatives has filed a lawsuit demanding that the national government revoke revision to prison directives banning the use of such pencils, arguing that it violates his freedom of expression guaranteed under the Japanese Constitution.

The first hearing of the trial, filed by Akihiro Okumoto, 33, was held at the Tokyo District Court on Oct. 7. 

The national government requested that the court dismiss the case as the directives are "orders within an administrative organization and therefore shall not be covered in a lawsuit."

According to the complaint and other sources, Okumoto was accused of murdering his wife, son and mother-in-law in 2010, and his death penalty was finalized in the Supreme Court in 2014. 

He has been detained at the Fukuoka detention center, where he has been drawing pictures using a 24-color pencil set. 

He has been selling his drawings via his supporters and sending the profits to bereaved family members.

In October 2020, the Ministry of Justice revised the directives at detention centers "following a review on issues regarding security." 

As a result, death-row inmates and defendants detained at such facilities became unable to purchase colored pencils.

Okumoto argues that compared to mechanical pencils and other writing utensils allowed at detention centers, the risk of him harming himself or others with colored pencils cannot be said to be exceptionally high, and therefore claims that totally banning the purchase of the pencils is excessively restrictive.

Source: mainichi.jp, Staff, October 8, 2021

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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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