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Ex-Marine decries nature of Japan prison work
Stars and Stripes ^ | 18 Jul 04 | David Allen

Posted on 07/18/2004 8:55:26 PM PDT by GATOR NAVY

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — When Rodrico Harp was sentenced to seven years at hard labor for his part in the infamous abduction and rape of an Okinawa schoolgirl in 1995, he never thought he’d be assembling cell phones or making auto parts. That’s what he claims “hard labor” meant at Kurihama, the Japanese prison near Yokosuka where most American servicemen convicted in Japanese courts wind up.

“I made parts for Mazdas and Nissans,” Harp said during a telephone interview from his home in Griffin, Ga. “You had no choice. If you refused to work, they put you in what we called a chill box, a little cell with nothing in it, and they forced you to sit rigidly all day at a desk until it was time to eat and sleep.

“Sometimes, if they thought you were too rowdy or misbehaving or just not doing what they wanted you to do, they’d put you in a straitjacket in a padded room.”

That’s wrong, says Michael Griffith, a New York-based lawyer who specializes in defending Americans overseas.

“Japan is in gross violation of international law by forcing prisoners to work for commercial companies,” Griffith said via telephone from his Long Island home. “It amounts to slave labor, nothing less.”

Japan prison officials and legal experts disagree. “We do not necessarily see inmates engaging in manufacturing commercial products as a problem,” said Makoto Teranaka, executive director of Amnesty International Japan. “We hear arguments criticizing that the practice harms fair competitive market activities. However, products made by inmates are no cheaper than those made in the regular commercial environment. The differences in the price for the products that a company pays and the amount an inmate receives goes in the prison coffer. … Every prison is supposed to be self supporting,” he said.

In addition, Japanese officials say commercial products made in Japanese prisons aren’t exported to countries banning forced prison labor.

“Prison labor is a part of punishment,” said Teranaka. “Therefore, what inmates receive are not wages, but a financial incentive. What we see as a problem is that they work a full eight hours, which deprives them of any opportunities to receive counseling or other necessary treatment.”

Griffith, who represented the families of Harp and another defendant in the 1995 case, said American prisoners are forced to work eight hours a day for what amounts to about one dollar a day. They made auto parts and assembled cellular telephones, the former prisoners said.

“It’s in direct violation of the Forced Labor Convention of 1930, which prohibits the use of prisoners for outside contractors,” Griffith alleged.

The U.S. State Department lists Japan as a party to the convention. According to papers filed in a 1994 Congressional subcommittee hearing on the prison labor issue, Japan ratified the convention Nov. 31, 1932.

Harp was a 22-year-old Marine private first class when sentenced in March 1996 with Pfc. Kendrick Ledet, 21, and Navy Seaman Marcus Gill, 23, a medic, for raping a 12-year-old girl they abducted from a street corner in Kin village, just outside Camp Hansen. The incident occurred on Labor Day 1995.

Harp and Gill were sentenced to seven years and Ledet to 6½ years of hard labor. All three were released last year and dishonorably discharged.

According to Japanese prison officials, about 20 U.S. servicemembers are serving time in Kurihama prison. Their work assignments include kitchen work and cleaning cellblocks, or manufacturing commercial products.

Prison officials declined any further comment.

“While in prison they were working for a Japanese automaker, making emblems for the front hoods and fabricating headrests,” Griffith said. “Harp told me that when the U.S. military guys came in to visit them, the Japanese would take the labels off the boxes so they wouldn’t see who the prisoners were working for.”

Griffith hopes to pressure Congress to hold hearings on the matter, in much the same way two house subcommittees met in 1994 on the Japanese prison labor issue.

At that time Rep. Gary L. Ackerman, (D-NY), chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, was disheartened, he said, to hear the testimony of Christopher Lavinger, a client of Griffith sentenced to 16 months in a Fuchu prison on drug charges.

Lavinger told the congressmen he was struck with an electrified baton twice when he teetered from a rigid position on a chair where he was forced to sit nearly motionless for 12 hours a day after refusing to produce goods for Sega and several Japanese department stores, for the equivalent of about three cents an hour.

“It is my firm opinion that not only is this practice morally reprehensible, but it is also in direct contravention of international agreements on to which Japan and most other industrialized and civilized nations have signed,” Ackerman said in a statement made June 10, 1994.

“Forced labor such as this violates the general conference of the International Labor Organization’s Convention 29, which was ratified by Japan on Nov. 21, 1932.”

The convention defines forced or compulsory labor as “any work or service exacted from any person as a consequence of a conviction in a court of law, provided that the said work or service is carried out under the supervision and control of a public authority and that the said person is not hired or placed at the disposal of private individuals, companies or associations.”

In some countries, including the United States, private companies use prison labor, but only with prisoner consent and for minimum wages.

Ackerman said a Japanese official told him the practice was not against Japanese or international law, but companies were instructed not to send any of the products to the United States because of the prohibition concerning prison labor.

“It’s too bad the Democrats lost control of Congress the next year and Ackerman lost the chairmanship of the committee,” Griffith said. “Nothing ever happened as a result of the hearing.”

In a letter to Griffith last year, Harp said he was forced to make and assemble cellular phone parts, car emblems and car panels. Pay ranged from 1,000 yen to 3,000 yen ($9.43 to $28.30) per month. He wrote to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo complaining of being forced to work for private Japanese companies and was told in a two-paragraph response that, “SOFA status prisoners are the responsibility of the U.S. military in Japan, regardless of where the prisoner is serving his sentence. We have forwarded your letter to the Marine Corps Base Camp Fuji, for further action.”

Harp said no action was taken.

Embassy officials directed Stripes inquiries to U.S. Forces Japan for information concerning the issue. A July 8 response stated, “prisoners receive a monthly visit from their respective service component’s prisoner liaison officer.”

“During this visit, the status of the prisoner’s health and welfare along with any complaints are noted,” the USFJ response stated. “If any legal matters arise, they are addressed by the Judge Advocate’s office.”

“Yeah, they’d come by,” Harp said. “They’d walk through and talk to us and tell us we were doing a good job and then they’d go. They saw what we were doing.”

Amnesty International released a May report highlighting reports of torture and ill treatment of people while in Japanese custody.

However, Japanese members of the organization say the prison labor issue is not that serious.

Teranaka, the executive director, said the prison labor practices are under review by the Ministry of Justice.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Foreign Affairs; Japan
KEYWORDS: abughraib; chillbox; exmarine; forcedlabor; hardlarbor; japan; okinawa; okinowa; rape; vigilantism
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This sleazebag animal is lucky to be out of prison already. Political considerations meant he and his buddies had to tried by the Japanese, but I'm pretty sure that if they had been turned over the military and court-martialed, they would have received quite a bit more than 7 years.
1 posted on 07/18/2004 8:55:28 PM PDT by GATOR NAVY
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To: GATOR NAVY
That @%$$%#$ can cry me a river. He dishonored his uniform, his shipmates and his country. He raped a 12-year-old girl and he's bitching about being made to assemble cellphones?

If I say what I truly think I'll get banned.

2 posted on 07/18/2004 8:59:53 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: GATOR NAVY
...for his part in the infamous abduction and rape of an Okinawa schoolgirl in 1995

Am I supposed to feel pity for this vermin? Cry me a river, you @#%$*#!, they let this scum off too easy.

3 posted on 07/18/2004 9:00:26 PM PDT by egarvue (Martin Sheen is not my president...)
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To: Billthedrill

Great minds think alike :-)


4 posted on 07/18/2004 9:00:52 PM PDT by egarvue (Martin Sheen is not my president...)
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To: GATOR NAVY
“Japan is in gross violation of international law by forcing prisoners to work for commercial companies,” Griffith said via telephone from his Long Island home. “It amounts to slave labor, nothing less.”

You nailed it. All I can say is boo-f***ing-hoo for these sleezebags. If they needed to get laid so badly, there are a wide choice of cathouses to service their needs for half a day's pay within a short drive of their base. When they picked on a little 12 year old on her way home from school, they should have been castarated in my book. Serious damage was done to the reputation of this country and the military because these three dirtbags were too cheap to pony up for a professional.

5 posted on 07/18/2004 9:03:36 PM PDT by Vigilanteman (crime would drop like a sprung trapdoor if we brought back good old-fashioned hangings)
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Comment #6 Removed by Moderator

To: GATOR NAVY

Yeah, he should have been in prison for life. Soldiers like him should be beaten savagely for the disgrace they bring to the men doing their jobs everyday for the rest of us, and for the lack of trust they foster in the Okinawa public.


7 posted on 07/18/2004 9:05:07 PM PDT by struggle ((The struggle continues))
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To: GATOR NAVY

---Harp was a 22-year-old Marine private first class when sentenced in March 1996 with Pfc. Kendrick Ledet, 21, and Navy Seaman Marcus Gill, 23, a medic, for raping a 12-year-old girl they abducted from a street corner in Kin village, just outside Camp Hansen. The incident occurred on Labor Day 1995.---

I'm sure their are quite a few people that would happily beat these three clowns to death.

---Michael Griffith, a New York-based lawyer who specializes in defending Americans overseas---

Should find another ambulance to chase.


8 posted on 07/18/2004 9:06:08 PM PDT by claudiustg (Go Sharon! Go Bush!)
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To: GATOR NAVY

They should be making gravel out of mountains. When they get through with Mt. Everest, they can get out.


9 posted on 07/18/2004 9:10:08 PM PDT by IncredibleHulk
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To: GATOR NAVY

SOB can cry me a river, he's lucky he wasn't smashing rocks at Leavenworth. Oh...Put him in the quiet room, make him sit in the comfy chair. Asshat.


10 posted on 07/18/2004 9:11:00 PM PDT by Zeroisanumber
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To: egarvue

He dishonored his uniform
He is a criminal
He hated having to work
He cries about how unfair the world is to him.

Guess who he will vote for President.


11 posted on 07/18/2004 9:11:14 PM PDT by Bogey78O (Counter offer. All prisoners are to be killed unless he is released)
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To: egarvue

Hmm...yeah, I do sense a certain lack of sympathy...


12 posted on 07/18/2004 9:11:22 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: egarvue

Exactly, these moron better get some drug convict or something and stay miles away from people who kidnapped and raped a young child. And personally, I do not think that given the US crime rate we are really in a position to tell other societies how to run their corrections.


13 posted on 07/18/2004 9:11:23 PM PDT by JLS
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To: JLS

Haven't seen a single post I disagree with here.

A bit muted, but all spot on.


14 posted on 07/18/2004 9:14:58 PM PDT by null and void (Middle East n. former name for the region commonly known as Oil Under Glass)
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To: null and void; Billthedrill

Aw, C'mon, folks, at least they didn't (shudder) put panties on his head - THAT would've REALLY violated international law...


15 posted on 07/18/2004 9:17:52 PM PDT by Old Sarge
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To: JLS

If he was in a US prison would be administered by a Wahabbi sect inman....no doubt a potential convert...his image of women will fit right in with the islamics.


16 posted on 07/18/2004 9:19:36 PM PDT by spokeshave (strategery + schadenfreude = stratenschadenfreudery)
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To: null and void; Billthedrill
As Billthedrill said, muted to keep from being banned.

I apologize for posting a photo of him in the uniform he disgraced.

17 posted on 07/18/2004 9:21:08 PM PDT by GATOR NAVY
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To: GATOR NAVY
"“You had no choice. If you refused to work, they put you in what we called a chill box, a little cell with nothing in it, and they forced you to sit rigidly all day at a desk until it was time to eat and sleep. "

Bring on the CHILL BOX, baby!

18 posted on 07/18/2004 9:22:01 PM PDT by endthematrix (To enter my lane you must use your turn signal!)
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To: GATOR NAVY; All

The fellow got sentenced and served his time. I agree with you that he is a whining SOB.

However!

Let's save most of our anger and outrage for the ambulance chasing attorney who specializes in these sorts of cases. My guess is that Hart didn't try to find an attorney; I'll bet the scum was waiting for him the minute he set foot back on American soil.


19 posted on 07/18/2004 9:22:03 PM PDT by x1stcav (http://www.ronaldreaganmemorial.com/photo_gallery.asp)
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To: GATOR NAVY
Gee...that just breaks my heart that these sweethearts didn't like all that "hard labor" they had to perform as a consequence of their actions after a night out on the town...[/extreme sarcasm]

You said it better than I could--I agree 100%. Wish the reporter had taken the time to contact the *victim* and ask her what *SHE* thinks about this pity-fest...I'd be willing to bet that she's probably outraged, too, though not over the "hard labor" these scumbags had to perform; but rather that there was *ONLY* seven years of it...
20 posted on 07/18/2004 9:22:25 PM PDT by A Jovial Cad ("I had no shoes and I complained, until I saw a man who had no feet.")
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To: GATOR NAVY

I guess the prisons in Japan don't provide gyms, law libraries, and entertainment the way ours do in the U.S. Maybe we should adopt their way of handling criminals.


21 posted on 07/18/2004 9:23:24 PM PDT by KittyKares
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To: Southern62

These guys are part of why the Marines had such a terrible rep in Okinawa.

When I was in Okinawa the Japanese Police always started a conversation with "You Marine?" Thank God I was Army -

Marines got no slack in Okinawa because of some of them that were all caught up with gung ho fever and showed zero respect for the culture..

There were actually beaches that only Marines were banned from by the okinawans - very bad reputation.


22 posted on 07/18/2004 9:25:04 PM PDT by Southern62
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To: GATOR NAVY

Michael Griffith, Esq. be happy that I'm not in charge. Mr. Harp would be dropped naked in the tundra during mosquito season somewhere in the vicinity of migrating polar bears after a long winter. Live like a barbarian...die like a barbarian.


23 posted on 07/18/2004 9:27:13 PM PDT by Chgogal (Pssst. I have it on the best authority that Allah has run out of virgins. Spread the word.)
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To: x1stcav

The scumbag lawyer. Actually, he was involved in the original trial too.

24 posted on 07/18/2004 9:28:47 PM PDT by GATOR NAVY
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To: GATOR NAVY

Perhaps this guy would like to compare his treatment to that received by our WWII POWs, who suffered horribly at the hands of the Japanese. Let's see--he raped a 12 year odl girl and only received a 7-year sentence, then complains because he had to work? Give me a break. You'll note that the story makes no mention as to what Mr. Harp is doing now. Very little, I'd say, and I'll bet he's still on the government's dime, as a welfare recipient. BTW, I wonder if he had to register as a sex offender after returning to the states. There ought to be a sign in his front yard, reminding everyone what he did to that little girl....


25 posted on 07/18/2004 9:30:23 PM PDT by Spook86
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To: GATOR NAVY

He looks like a very aged and dissipated version oif that pretty boy who defended Kervokian. The one all of the cable news shows had on a few years ago, jeffrey something.

I hope this creep has a long pre-trial settlement conference with his creator.


26 posted on 07/18/2004 9:32:14 PM PDT by x1stcav (http://www.ronaldreaganmemorial.com/photo_gallery.asp)
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To: endthematrix

"forced you to sit rigidly all day at a desk until it was time to eat and sleep"

Here we call them cubicles.


27 posted on 07/18/2004 9:32:40 PM PDT by geopyg (Peace..................through decisive and ultimate VICTORY. (Democracy, whiskey, sexy))
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To: GATOR NAVY
Don't do the crime if you can't do the time, whiner.

(And that was directed toward the rare individual I would refer to as an "ex-Marine", not you).

28 posted on 07/18/2004 9:34:49 PM PDT by asgardshill ("I like the yellow ones")
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To: GATOR NAVY

Yo homes, ain't it a b** tch when you have to work. Jeez with a Queens judge you'd be chillin' with some fine b**ty and an apology for being hassled by the man.


29 posted on 07/18/2004 9:36:07 PM PDT by hatfieldmccoy (Just a country boy with an agenda :)
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To: GATOR NAVY; weegee; geopyg
"Michael Griffith, a New York-based lawyer who specializes in defending Americans overseas."

He was the lawyer for Ted Maher in the Edmond Safra murder.

30 posted on 07/18/2004 9:41:00 PM PDT by endthematrix (To enter my lane you must use your turn signal!)
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To: GATOR NAVY

Oh boohoo....Hard labor should mean breaking rocks 10 hours a day, not sitting on your behind putting phones together!!!


31 posted on 07/18/2004 9:41:29 PM PDT by Jewels1091
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To: GATOR NAVY

Why is this scumbag still allowed to breathe?


32 posted on 07/18/2004 9:41:37 PM PDT by JackelopeBreeder (Proud to be a mean-spirited and divisive loco gringo armed vigilante terrorist cucaracha!)
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To: hatfieldmccoy

A follow up... I know the Marines are embarrased that this bottom feeder slipped throught the crack (hmmm pun intended)Much respect for the dignity, courage and pride of the Marines from just a country boy but a proud American. Thanks for your service...


33 posted on 07/18/2004 9:43:13 PM PDT by hatfieldmccoy (Just a country boy with an agenda :)
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To: GATOR NAVY

He should have been turned over to the vicitms family...and let them take care of him anyway they saw fit...
Why bring him back to the USA....like we need the likes of him here...


34 posted on 07/18/2004 9:44:13 PM PDT by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: Bogey78O
Guess who he will vote for President.

Wouldn't the felony conviction cause this guy to lose his right to vote? I realize that it was in a Japanese court, so I'm curious as to what the law is.

35 posted on 07/18/2004 9:45:24 PM PDT by RonF
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To: GATOR NAVY

Well, for seven years at least, these scum were not here in the US commiting crimes.


36 posted on 07/18/2004 9:47:00 PM PDT by Rockpile
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To: GATOR NAVY
In addition, Japanese officials say commercial products made in Japanese prisons aren’t exported to countries banning forced prison labor.

Awww . . . I'd like to buy some of those products. The reason crime is so high in this country is because 'rats like to mollycoddle criminals.

37 posted on 07/18/2004 9:48:55 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: RonF

I don't know what the consequences of a foreign felony conviction are. All they received from the U.S. were dishonorable discharges, which is not a conviction.


38 posted on 07/18/2004 9:51:05 PM PDT by GATOR NAVY
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To: RonF

Okay, so we have a voting rights concern about this quality American citizen. He's violent, rapist, trash, sounds like a Democrat Convention Delegate


39 posted on 07/18/2004 9:52:49 PM PDT by hatfieldmccoy (Just a country boy with an agenda :)
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To: GATOR NAVY

Actually a DD is a felony conviction = no vote.


40 posted on 07/18/2004 9:53:11 PM PDT by ASOC (You only have the freedoms you are willing to fight for today.)
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To: joesnuffy

At one of the posts I was assigned to in Korea, there was a village on the west side that was very strictly off limits and had been for years. Two GIs went over there one night and raped a young girl. They were found the next morning in pieces all over the perimeter fence. When the details came out, most of the GIs thought they hade been treated with far too much mercy.


41 posted on 07/18/2004 9:53:44 PM PDT by JackelopeBreeder (Proud to be a mean-spirited and divisive loco gringo armed vigilante terrorist cucaracha!)
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To: ASOC

I went back and looked, I think you're right. It can only be imposed by a court.


42 posted on 07/18/2004 10:04:38 PM PDT by GATOR NAVY
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To: KittyKares

I guess the prisons in Japan don't provide gyms, law libraries, and entertainment the way ours do in the U.S. Maybe we should adopt their way of handling criminals.

And save billions of tax dollars in the process. In many states, they are no longer allowed to make license plates. Poor criminals would have to work like most of us do. Couln't have that now could we?
I like the guy in Arizona that houses his inmantes in a tent without AC and makes them eat bologna sandwiches.


43 posted on 07/18/2004 10:31:10 PM PDT by conshack
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To: RonF

Wouldn't the felony conviction cause this guy to lose his right to vote? I realize that it was in a Japanese court, so I'm curious as to what the law is.


How dare you speak about not voting. Don't you know that 50,00 felons were denied the right to vote in Floriday in 2000? The dems were very unhappy with that. Jesse Jackson swears is racist to deny such fine US citizens their God given right to vote. Don't dare say that again(sarcasm).


44 posted on 07/18/2004 10:37:23 PM PDT by conshack
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To: GATOR NAVY
“It is my firm opinion that not only is this practice morally reprehensible, but it is also in direct contravention of international agreements on to which Japan and most other industrialized and civilized nations have signed,” Ackerman said in a statement made June 10, 1994.
Maybe I'm just too old-fashioned for my own good, but I think those words would be better used to describe kidnapping and raping a little girl.

What, precisely, is the theory behind banning forced labor, anyway? I can't help but think that hard, forced labor would be a fantastic deterrent. On top of that, am I the only person that's ever seen the State Department's warnings that when in a foreign country you should dot your "i"'s and cross your "t"'s because some things that aren't illegal at home are illegal abroad, and some offenses carry much higher penalties abroad than they do at home, and that when you're in a foreign country you're subjct to their laws and their judicial system? I'd be willing to bet that Singapore gets a great deterrence value out of the "DEATH TO DRUG TRAFFIKERS UNDER SINGAPORE LAW" stamped on the immigration entry card that foreigners have to fill out to get into the country.

45 posted on 07/18/2004 10:41:29 PM PDT by kyguy
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To: conshack
"I like the guy in Arizona that houses his inmantes in a tent without AC and makes them eat bologna sandwiches."

I tried that in Vietnam, except that our chow was worse. Hey, if it's good enough for me, it's good enough for criminals.

46 posted on 07/18/2004 10:43:49 PM PDT by atomic conspiracy (A few words for the media: Julius Streicher, follow his path, share his fate.)
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To: GATOR NAVY

I would like to see the comments on this string shared with our friends in Japan, especially Okinawa. Can someone arrange that?


47 posted on 07/18/2004 10:45:38 PM PDT by atomic conspiracy (A few words for the media: Julius Streicher, follow his path, share his fate.)
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To: Billthedrill

If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.


48 posted on 07/18/2004 10:50:37 PM PDT by Choose Ye This Day (Terrorist attacks ain't caused by the use of strength. They're invited by the perception of weakness)
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To: GATOR NAVY
Sounds like these prisoners are getting off easy. They could be breaking rocks or hoeing crops in 100 degree weather.

They should have thought of this before raping a Japanese girl.

49 posted on 07/18/2004 11:13:42 PM PDT by valkyrieanne
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To: x1stcav
He looks like a very aged and dissipated version oif that pretty boy who defended Kervokian. The one all of the cable news shows had on a few years ago, jeffrey something.

Geoff Fieger. His brother Doug was the lead singer of The Knack.

50 posted on 07/18/2004 11:17:46 PM PDT by NYCVirago
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