No sign language allowed in the meeting with Deaf defendant in Osaka Prefecture

September 17, 2011

It turned out that the Osaka Regional Correction Headquarters gave improvement instruction noting that it was inappropriate that the Osaka prison did not accept sign language in the meeting between the Deaf male defendant (59) and the Deaf visitor.

Although there is no regulation which forbids the use of sign language in the visit at the prison, the visitor claims that she was forced to communicate in writing with the Deaf defendant about 40 times, which Osaka prison officials apologized later.

The defendant was prosecuted for homicide, etc. in May and the woman is his acquaintance. When she visited the prison in the end of May to meet the defendant, the personnel who attended told them not to use sign language, but writing. She visited about 40 times after that, all communicated in writing.

Sign language was accepted for the first time when the woman visited the prison with a sign-language interpreter late in August. However, the prison officials told them that the use of sign language was not accepted further, and that this was the same as the whole country. The interpreter protested saying other prisons allow sign language in the visit with the defendant.

It is provided in the meeting with the defendants under detention by the criminal accommodating facility regulations that the prison personnel must attend. According to the Ministry of Justice, if there is request for the use of sign language, the personnel who understands it will attend, or the interpreter is to be called from the outside, and the minister's notification clearly states that the Ministry of Justice will pay interpreter's dispatch expenses.

The Regional Correction Headquarters has found the trouble and investigated: there has been no personnel who understands sign language in the Osaka prison, and it has not arranged an interpreter except this case, but asking for communication in writing. This condition has been continued for a long time.

The Regional Correction Headquarters instructed on improvement on September 15. It is said that the prison will aim at training the personnel in sign language from now on.

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