Hangings aren’t worth the risk

Toki, Gifu

Regarding the Feb. 22 front-page article “Three murderers sent to the gallows“: These three committed barbaric crimes and there is no doubt about their guilt, it seems. However, not all cases are so clear-cut. No criminal justice system is perfect, and mistakes can result in the judicial killing of innocents.

Any risk of executing the wrong person is surely reason enough for doing away with the death penalty.

Toshikazu Sugaya, the school bus driver accused in 1991 of the murder of a 4-year-old girl, was shouted at by police so loudly it permanently damaged his hearing, kicked and bullied into a confession during a 13-hour interrogation. He was then wrongfully imprisoned for 17 years. Finally freed in 2009, he was exonerated and compensated after a DNA test proved him innocent.

If this case had been a capital one, Sugaya would not have escaped the noose. Executions of those who were in fact not guilty, have happened many times in many places around the world. These appalling injustices, few as they may be compared with the number of guilty convictions, are not worth the desire for revenge that hangings afford the relatives of crime victims.

They are never worth it, not even at the price of sparing the lives of criminals as heinous as those hanged in Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo last week.

stephen carr
toki, gifu

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.