JT/Kyodo: “Innocents” apprehended by police rise to 2.9%!


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Hi Blog.  Here’s some “good news”–the benefit of the doubt for innocent people has gone up by a factor of 28.  From 0.1% to 2.9%.  Wow. (Yes, I’m being sarcastic.)  A “more strict assessment of evidence”–what a revolutionary concept! (ditto).  Debito in Sapporo


‘Innocent rate’ rises to highest in decade

Japan Times Kyodo News, Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Courtesy of Mark MT and Todd Stradford

The Supreme Court said Monday that 2.9 percent of defendants who pleaded not guilty to criminal charges were found innocent at their initial trials in 2007, marking the highest level in a decade.

Other data by the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office indicated that more district courts have declined to accept depositions, which show defendants’ confessions, as evidence. In several cases, the focus of dispute was whether the confessions were voluntary and/or credible.

The circumstances suggest district courts are applying a more strict assessment of evidence prior to the introduction next year of the lay judge system, in which ordinary people will take part in criminal trials along with professional judges.

The so-called innocent rate at the initial trial level was up from 2.6 percent in 2006 after hovering above 2 percent since 2003, according to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Affairs Bureau. It hovered between 1.2 percent and 1.9 percent from 1998 to 2002.

District courts handed down rulings on 69,238 defendants last year, of whom 4,984 denied the charges against them as their trials opened.

Of the defendants pleading innocent, 97 were found fully innocent and 48 partially innocent. Among their trials were 896 serious cases, such as murder and arson, that will require the involvement of citizen judges. In the serious category, 19 of the defendants were found completely or partially innocent.

Separate data from the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office indicated that district courts rejected depositions as evidence in 10 of the 70 cases last year in which the voluntary nature of the confessions was challenged.

The Japan Times: Tuesday, June 3, 2008

4 comments on “JT/Kyodo: “Innocents” apprehended by police rise to 2.9%!

  • I just hope the situation gets better

    The problem is that if no one does anything, nothing will change.

    I believe Japanese lawyers should look at the constitutional system of working democracies such as scandinavian countries or Canada and study what worked and what didn’t and bring the best solutions to their own country.

    In Canada it is a general principle that prosecutors are not supposed to seek convictions, but simply bring the facts to the court and let them decide. When a defendent is acquitted, the prosecutor did not “lose” his case, he simply did his job and let the law decide. The Canadian supreme court also laid very strict rules for confessions… for example, when a police officer tells a suspect that if he confesses he’ll get a lighter sentence, that alone is sufficient to make the confession thrown out in court. Also, if the police goes out of bounds to interrogate a suspect, and that suspect, under coercion, tells the police where the crime weapon is, then that weapon cannot be used as evidence (unless it is in a place where the police would have looked anyway, but if it’s buried underground or in a river or something, then it doesn’t matter what the police get from it, it gets thrown out)

    The attitude that “you just don’t understand us” whenever a change is proposed is sad, but fortunately not universal.

  • And what will happen when the hoo-hah over wrongly-jailed Japanese Citizens dies down? Will we go back down to 0.1%?

    Heaven forbid if someone cleared of a crime goes out and commits a serious crime – we could be looking at 0.0000001%.

    There’s no solid foundation for this increase in the ‘innocence rate’ – legislation and transparent policing and justices systems are needed.

  • Well, as the famous saying goes, “no smoke rises from where there is no fire.”

    –Um, unpack this thought a little more for us…

  • majimeaussie says:

    As pointed out on another site, it seems like a case of lies, damn lies and statistics.

    The conviction rate is 99.86% (only 97 of 69,238 cases innocent)

    Other than the statistics, the other comments in the article give rise to hope.


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