Inmate with 'threatening aura': Japanese prison bans glasses

A Japanese prison sees danger in a prisoner's glasses.

Inmate with 'threatening aura': Japanese prison bans glasses

A Japanese prison sees danger in a prisoner's glasses. He is not allowed to carry them any further. The glasses give the prisoner a threatening aura, management says. Now the prison is under criticism.

In Japan, a prison has been criticized for forbidding an inmate from wearing glasses that were supposed to be threatening. According to the Sapporo Bar Association, Tsukigata Prison in the north of the country forbade the inmate, in his 40s, from wearing glasses that had a silver frame at the top and were rimless at the bottom.

The prison administration argued that the glasses gave the inmate "a menacing aura" that could intimidate other inmates or tempt them to taunt. According to the Bar Association, prison officials have argued that the glasses could "have a bad impact on prison life by inducing undisciplined behavior such as fights and bullying."

A representative of the prison administration defended the decision when asked by the AFP news agency. "We believe there is nothing wrong or unfair about the way we have handled the situation," said the employee, who asked not to be named.

The bar association, on the other hand, emphasized that the prisoner concerned, who was in prison for a traffic offense and has since been released, suffered greatly from the ban on glasses. His eyesight was so bad that he "ran into other prisoners" and suffered from "a severe headache". The Bar Association therefore sent a warning to the prison.

Its vice president, Ayako Ito, told AFP that glasses are often "like a part of the body" for people with impaired vision. If prisoners can no longer read without problems because they do not have glasses, this violates "their rights to a minimum standard of cultural life".

Strict rules apply in Japan's prisons. Prisoners have repeatedly been forbidden to wear glasses for various reasons. At Tsukigata Prison in 2020, an inmate was banned from wearing his own Bulgari designer glasses because they were too flashy and ostentatious.

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