I was reading an article in the Wall Street Journal this week. Here are some sentences describing someone’s imprisonment.
- Alone in his cell, he isn’t permitted to leave (on weekends) for the 30 minutes of fresh air he gets on weekdays.
- The lights burn 24 hours a day.
- He can’t wear a watch, and sometimes finds himself disoriented.
- Authorities state this is “normal treatment”.
- He has been interrogated for up to five hours a day, with no lawyer present.
- Prosecutors can sometimes harangue suspects who choose to remain silent for ten hours a day.
- The person is forced to sign statements in a foreign language that he cannot read.
- Family members are not allowed to visit.
- The cell has a window, but it is very deep in the wall and the prisoner cannot see out.
- Prisoner is allowed a shower twice a week (three times a week in summer). Cold water is all he gets from the tap in his cell.
So, what do you think of this punishment being meted out, to a person imprisoned for a non-violent, financial crime? It sounds cruel and unusual to me, especially for a person charged with a white-collar crime, who has not yet had his day in court. He has not been convicted, or even tried, for this crime. He is being treated like a violent criminal, subject to conditions often found in high-security prisons.
Where do you think this might be happening? Some third-world country in Africa or Latin America? Nope, this is Japan. And the prisoner is a gentleman named Carlos Ghosn, who until recently was the CEO of an alliance between automakers Nissan of Japan and Renault of France. Mitsubishi of Japan was also a party to this alliance. The companies had been thriving, and producing cars for the world in multiple countries. He was very highly thought-of, and a well-paid globetrotter, often jetting around the world to attend meetings and watch over all the factories. He has been accused of understating his salary, and skimming funds from his corporations to pay for things for his family and himself. He has lost all of his jobs, and has been in prison in Japan since mid-November of 2018, with only one month out of jail before being re-arrested and sent back to confinement.
This seems to me to be cruel and unusual punishment for a non-violent crime. How the mighty has fallen. I don’t think he deserves this kind of punishment. What do you think?