This has always struck me as evil

Capital punishment in Japan is conducted by hanging, and the practice of notifying inmates just hours before the penalty is carried out has long been decried by international human rights organisations for the stress it places on prisoners.

I’m not sure about this but roughly. After – after note – breakfast it is possible that the guard comes and says today’s the day. And then they hang before or by lunchtime.

Which does make that little period of time after breakfast each day a tad worrying. Especially as this goes on for years, sometimes decades.

Now, whether this is justifiably evil or not is up to each individual to consider. But I can’t see it as being anything other than an evilish twisting of the knife….hmm, maybe brandishing of the rope.

46 thoughts on “This has always struck me as evil”

  1. Dunno

    I read a short story once involving a condemned prisoner. The plot involved a guard who was going to help the prisoner escape. At the end of the story, with the escape having been successful, the guard shoots the prisoner in the back of the head. The whole thing had been set up to to give the prisoner hope. The condemned prisoner never knew they were always going to die, never knew the moment of execution.

    Would that be better?

  2. The beginning of Going Postal by Sir Pterry has a similar (but obviously more Pratchettian) idea — that there should be the illusion of hope for the condemned.

  3. Actually, seems perfectly fair. Pierrepoint always made a point of being as quick as possible with his executions on the basis it was kinder

  4. prisoners claim that the short notice given to death row inmates before they are led to the gallows is illegal since it does not give condemned men and women enough time to object.

    Pretty sure they have plenty of time to object during and after the trial.

    Japan and the US are the only industrialised democracies that still carry out executions.

    Idk, isn’t India quite industrialised these days?

    Amnesty International accused Japan of subjecting death row inmates to “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment, including the short time prisoners are given to prepare themselves for their execution and the many years they spend in solitary confinement.

    Either they’re being kept in solitary for years knowing they’re sentenced to death, or they are given a short time to prepare for their execution. It can’t be both. We’re all living under a sentence of death, after all.

  5. @Rupert

    Pierrepoint story. One condemned man, with his hands tied behind his back, complained of an itchy nose.

    “Don’t worry, Sir”, Pierrepoint told him “that won’t trouble you for long”

  6. Which does make that little period of time after breakfast each day a tad worrying.

    But then every day (except the last) the condemned gets to experience relief (elation?) that today’s not the day. Someone on a fixed countdown to a known date just has permanent dread. Dunno, I can’t see how you don’t make death row unpleasant.

  7. What they shoulf do is let the condemned man watch the executioners test the gallows with a dummy or sandbag to assure him that it is safe.

  8. If I’m ever executed, I’d like the firing squad.

    Guillotine/headsman – too body horror

    Hanging – too much chance they’ll muff it up and leave you strangling to death (as they did at Nuremberg)

    Crucifixion – too painful and blasphemous

    The Garotte – too Spanish

    Lethal injection or poison gas – a man should die like a man, not a pet

    So, firing squad it is. Blindfold and cigarette, the obligatory Dad joke at the last request “let me go, you bastards!”, and then you’re swiftly away from this Port Vale of tears.

  9. @Steve “Hanging – too much chance they’ll muff it up and leave you strangling to death (as they did at Nuremberg)”

    I’m not sure that was as a result of error.

  10. They could just tell the hangee that “Today’s the day!!!!1!!1!” after breakfast every day. And then not do it. Repeat daily.

    By the time the day really did come, they’d be so used to it that there would be no terror at all.

  11. I’m not sure that was as a result of error.

    It was on the US side; their executioner was someone unskilled who just blagged their way in. Mark Felton (I think) did an episode on this (youtube).

  12. @Andrew C

    Best Pierrepoint story is John Amery’s last words to him “I’ve always wanted to meet you, Mr. Pierrepoint, though not of course under these circumstances!”

  13. Dennis, Legend of the Parish

    Timmy –

    After I’ve read about the prisoner’s crimes, and considered the victims and their loved ones, I find myself remarkably indifferent to the issue you raise.

  14. Dennis, Tiresome Denizen of Central Ohio

    The other thing to consider is that there is no “humane” way to take another person’s life. It’s the ultimate act of violence irrespective of method. So, what it comes down to – for me at least – is that the debate over method has everything to do about people feeling discomfort over an event and wanted to ease that discomfort by finding a way to tell themselves it really isn’t as bad as it is. That has nothing to do with the execution of a prisoner and everything to do with society wanting to distance itself from what it is doing.

    And understand, I support the death penalty.

  15. @Dennis
    Way I look at things, people don’t actually experience anything. What they actually experience is the memory of the experience. So for the bloke getting judicially topped the whole issue’s irrelevant. By definition, he is no longer around with the memory.
    So, yes, it’s all about everybody else.

  16. Steve @ 11.47.
    Filter tipped, Low tar or should we be offering a vape these days? You know, to protect the health of the condemned.

    Personally, I can’t reconcile the supposed logic of society saying murder is wrong then murdering someone because they’ve been naughty.

    Getting rid of the death penalty was sold with the idea that the convicted would be given life imprisonment. They have reneged on that – make life mean life.

  17. Bloke in North Dorset

    The BBC’s report on this story has demonstrated why they’re unique funding allows them to maintain high quality journalism and reporting standards:

    “ There are more than 100 people on death row in Japan but none have been executed for nearly two years.”

    I know it’s a grim subject but I couldn’t help laughing at that one, nor could Mrs BiND when I showed her.

    I don’t support giving government’s much power in the first place, letting them have the power of life and death is a step too far. That said, if we are going to have the death penalty a bullet to the back of the head right after sentence is passed is probably the most “humane”.

  18. I’m with Addolff

    There have been quite a few cases where (after a guilty verdict and considering what the person has been convicted of) there have been calls for instant death and that being too good for the convicted, only for the person to be subsequently, often many years later, found not to have done the crime.

    Releasing someone who has wrongly spent years in prison is one thing. Digging up a corpse and saying sorry is another.

    Also, politicians, the state and the police can’t be trusted with such power over life and death.

    But life should mean life. And not in something resembling a 4 star hotel with the only downside being you can’t check out. Our prisons are only ‘over crowded’ because we don’t cram prisoners closer together.

  19. @Dennis “the debate over method has everything to do about people feeling discomfort”

    I hear that they favour anti-aircraft guns as an execution method in North Korea. Clearly Kim Jong-un feels little discomfort over method.

    As you say though, the executed are just as dead as if they’d used strawberry flavour cyanide hidden in a cream bun.

  20. I have always been puzzled by the Chinese penalty of a suspended death sentence. “Don’t do it again or you get the chop.”

  21. Adolfff – Gawd, you’re right. The elfin safety would be more excruciating than the dying part.

    The distinction between killing a woman who was out jogging and killing her killer is that the latter is not murder, but justice, natch.

    I find it puzzling that we, as a society, kill 100,000+ completely innocent unborn people every year because they’re inconvenient, but somehow get all squishy when it comes to Wayne Couzens.

    Not to mention our foreign policy, which has murdered more innocent Iraqis, Afghans, Libyans, Syrians and Serbians in the past 25 years alone than the total number of people judicially killed by English authorities in the 200 year period from 1735 to 1964. Yet Tony Blair and David Cameron are free and fabulously wealthy men.

  22. Bloke in North Korea (Germany province)

    It’s don’t do _anything_ again or you get the chop. Which could be quite effective. Considering the non-murder things that get you a death sentence, suspended or otherwise in China…

    Anti aircraft gun has to be one of the quickest and most painless dispatching methods imaginable. KJU must only prefer it for the entertainment value.

  23. “I’m not sure about this but roughly. After – after note – breakfast it is possible that the guard comes and says today’s the day. And then they hang before or by lunchtime.

    Which does make that little period of time after breakfast each day a tad worrying. Especially as this goes on for years, sometimes decades.”

    Just been thinking about what Tim wrote there. Seems a very fitting punishment for the crime. The convicted gets to consider the value of their life to them, until their next breakfast time. What they denied their victim. Over & over again.

  24. While not opposed to the death penalty in principle, it poisons a society if it is made cruel though.
    If t’were to be done…etc.
    Sometimes the most revealing insights are gained in how the nastiest but necessary jobs are performed.

    The problem is that you need utter faith in the accuracy and incorruptibility of the criminal justice system and associated political hangers on. Ah, that’ll be never then.

    Did the accused actually do the ‘orrible crime, or are they just an inconvenient Brexit supporter who also spoke dangerous truths about the deliberate flooding of the Somerset Levels?
    (Substitute ‘Trump supporter’ for the left-ponders)

  25. Though I’m pretty conservative, I find it pretty inconsistent to think that the government can do little right except choose whether someone should be executed. There is also an economic argument to be made – so many appeals and special death rows are expensive to maintain over a period of decades. And something seems pointless about executing someone 20 years or more after the crime.

    So, I’m in favor of ending the death penalty in favor of life in prison. However, life should mean life and right now the liberals are trying to change that to life should only mean a long time, and once they’ve achieved that they’ll probably want it to mean a short time. Right now Sirhan Sirhan, who killed Robert Kennedy and was originally sentenced to death, has been recommended for parole. I suspect he won’t be as the governor can deny it and there isn’t much upside for him to releasing him.

    What is real torture though, it is for those families of victims who must then make the trudge every couple of years to to testify at parole hearings against some killer’s release who for some reason has been determined to be eligible for parole. I watched my brother-in-law, whose own brother was murdered by someone with an extensive criminal record, make the trip along with his mother and sister every few years to argue against the killer’s release. This keeps it alive for the families in a manner that makes it hard to sympathize with the angst felt by the Japanese prisoners.

    Observing this I’ve also come to learn how many liberals will criticize the victims’ families for not forgiving and forgetting. Fuck ‘em.

  26. Some people view the death penalty as “getting off easy” for death row inmates, who are there for a reason.

    So living those years waiting in anticipation might balance that out.

    That said, if I were to design the process, I’d make things a little more formal than that. In the U.S., the victim’s family also gets to witness the execution, so it’s good for them to have prior notice at least.

  27. @Van_Patten

    Perhaps every morning someone could phone Spud and tell him he was being ennobled or had won the Nobel prize for economics and then phone him back half an hour later to say there’d been a mix-up, but that it would be confirmed tomorrow.

  28. BiS : “Just been thinking about what Tim wrote there. Seems a very fitting punishment for the crime. The convicted gets to consider the value of their life to them, until their next breakfast time. What they denied their victim. Over & over again.”

    As far as I can tell that fits the japanese morality of “Reflect, Repent and Amend” to a tee.
    To japanese philosophy the act of depriving someone of the possibility to amend, other than suffering an endless cycle of reflection and repenting is the ultimate punishment, while still allowing the criminal to diminish Karmic Retribution to himself.

    Note that this is also why they also ensure death-row inmates cannot possibly commit suicide as much as humanly possible. Since suicide is one of the classic and societally acceptable ways to “Amend”.

    The system is designed to fit the japanese societal notions of justice and retribution. Not to please the salon-chair activists of Amnesty International.

  29. @Andrew C,

    I fear that you have muddled up the judicial process and the punishment. In the case of the Drummer Rigby murderers, there wasn’t the slightest doubt about who did it.

  30. “In the case of the Drummer Rigby murderers, there wasn’t the slightest doubt about who did it.”
    It said so on the BBC.

    Even if I was there and saw with my own eyes, I wouldn’t necessarily be 100% sure of identity, especially after 12 months of custody.
    Even eye witness evidence is unreliable, like many others, I didn’t see the gorilla.

  31. Steve @2:46. I would suggest that it wasn’t “our Foreign Policy” that murdered those people, rather it was that members of ‘those people’ used the opportunity (we may, or may not have provided them with) to murder other members of ‘those people’ they didn’t like.

  32. Could they not just return to the old Samurai method?
    Tie them up in two.
    Make them kneel.
    Bring the sword up
    Bring it down on the head and if it cuts them in half straight down – the sword’s a good ‘in

  33. Supporter of Greta Thunberg

    There is a short story where someone goes into a luxury hotel room to await their capital punishment. They are told that if they survive the first night in the room, then they will be allowed to live. At the end of the story the man survives the night and thinks he has survived he walks do the door puts his hand to the handle expecting freedom and is instead electrocuted.

  34. I saw an episode of Babylon Berlin where the woman convicted of blowing up the politician was chopped with an axe. “Ha tosh !” I said, “They used guillotines in Germany.”
    To my amazement, guillotines were only used in the southern provinces and in the north, murderers were indeed axed well into the 1920s !

  35. @Fred Death by sword symbolises atonement in japanese culture. Death by rope…. very much does not.
    It’s them little cultural details that matter..

  36. @Witchie

    So we reserve the death penalty for those cases where there was absolutely no doubt who did it?

    Like Sally Clark?

  37. @Tim,
    I think that the Rigby murderers should have been gunned down on the spot. After all, if it was good enough for a Brazilian electrician, it would have been good enough for them.

  38. So we reserve the death penalty for those cases where there was absolutely no doubt who did it?

    How about this bloke who murdered two women and shagged a load of corpses.
    Prime candidate if ever there was one…

  39. @AndrewC you don’t deserve the death penalty. You are deemed Too Dangerous To Stay Alive.

    Death is a Thing, and applying it to anyone else but yourself should always be approached with extreme reticence. Yet there are a couple of peeps past and present, given due course of law, who simply rate Special Consideration.

    And I am full well willing to take the Stigma of doing the Deed. The alternative is …. well… too messy….

  40. Ottokring
    November 5, 2021 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks Otto. Didn’t know the Germans used the guillotine in the south and the axe in the north. If I’d been asked, I would have said, ‘Of course they hang ’em just like us.’

    I’m guessing the guillotine came in when southern Germany was occupied/annexed by the Frogs during the Napoleonic wars.

  41. Bloke in North Korea (Germany province)

    Grikath, didn’t they hang rather than shoot some of the Nazi top brass for the same, i.e. cultural, reason?

  42. @BiNK Not sure according to which tradition those executions were performed.
    I think it was US martial, so bullet for the military, rope for the civilians. But I could be wrong.

    I don’t think peeps at the time cared very much about the method, as long as a cessation of continued existence was guaranteed.

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