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Like America, Japan Allows Guards to Walk After Prisoner Abuse Convictions

The recent convictions and sentences given to several Japanese prison guards reveals the phenomena of allowing guards to walk even when they seriously injure kill prisoners is not limited to the United States.

In total, seven guards have been convicted by the Nagoya District Court of assaults on three prisoners in 2001 and 2002, killing two and seriously injuring the other. Each guard received a suspended sentence.

The first incident occurred in December 2001. That fatal assault occurred when three guards aimed a fire hose at a prisoner's bare buttocks. They seriously injured the prisoner's rectum and anus. He died of bacterial shock the next day. The guards were each convicted of the abuse, which occurred at the Nagoya Prison, but they received only suspended sentences.

The other death and injury came in two separate incidents, but resulted from the same type of abuse. The "guards illegally used a restraining device, comprised of a leather belt and handcuffs, to punish the prisoners, when it was only to be used to restrain violent prisoners."

The death of a 49-year old prisoner came after he was forced into the device and later died of a heart attack in solitary confinement in May 2002. In September 2002, Hideki Yamashita, 34, experienced the same treatment. He was left with internal bleeding. Prosecutors argued that guards' tightening of the belts too far caused damage to the prisoner's mesentry, the membrane that connects the small intestine to the back wall of the abdominal cavity.

The judge rejected the guards' position that they were only doing their jobs. He found the belt was the cause of the injuries despite the guards' argument otherwise. Nonetheless, he only imposed suspended sentences. A story familiar to American prisoner activists.

Source: Japan Times

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