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[2009.08.06]Unjust and ineffective 立法不公,收效甚微









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发表于 2010-3-18 03:55 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
Sex laws

Unjust and ineffective

Aug 6th 2009 | HARLEM, GEORGIA
From The Economist print edition

America has pioneered the harsh punishment of sex offenders. Does it work?


Illustration by Noma Barr

ONE day in 1996 the lights went off in a classroom in Georgia so that the students could watch a video. Wendy Whitaker, a 17-year-old pupil at the time, was sitting near the back. The boy next to her suggested that, since it was dark, she could perform oral sex on him without anyone noticing. She obliged. And that single teenage fumble wrecked her life.

在1996的某一天,乔治亚州的一所教室因为学生要看电影而熄了灯。一名叫Wendy Whitaker的17岁少女坐在了教室后排。他旁边的一名男生要她为自己口交,并称教室昏暗,没有人会注意到。她屈从了,而正是年少的幼稚毁掉了她的人生。

Her classmate was three weeks shy of his 16th birthday. That made Ms Whitaker a criminal. She was arrested and charged with sodomy, which in Georgia can refer to oral sex. She met her court-appointed lawyer five minutes before the hearing. He told her to plead guilty. She did not really understand what was going on, so she did as she was told.


She was sentenced to five years on probation. Not being the most organised of people, she failed to meet all the conditions, such as checking in regularly with her probation officer. For a series of technical violations, she was incarcerated for more than a year, in the county jail, the state women’s prison and a boot camp. “I was in there with people who killed people. It’s crazy,” she says.


She finished her probation in 2002. But her ordeal continues. Georgia puts sex offenders on a public registry. Ms Whitaker’s name, photograph and address are easily accessible online, along with the information that she was convicted of “sodomy”. The website does not explain what she actually did. But since it describes itself as a list of people who have “been convicted of a criminal offence against a victim who is a minor or any dangerous sexual offence”, it makes it sound as if she did something terrible to a helpless child. She sees people whispering, and parents pulling their children indoors when she walks by.


Punish first, think later

The registry is a gold mine for lazy journalists. A local television station featured Ms Whitaker in a spot on local sex offenders, broadcasting a helpful map showing where she lives but leaving the specifics of the crime to each viewer’s fearful imagination. “My husband’s family saw me on TV,” she says. “That’s embarrassing.”


What Ms Whitaker did is no longer a crime in Georgia. The state’s sodomy laws, which in 1996 barred oral sex even between willing spouses, were struck down by court rulings in 1998 and 2003. And since 2006, thanks to a “Romeo and Juliet” clause in a sex-crimes law, consensual sex between two teenagers has been a misdemeanour, not a crime, if one partner is underage but no more than four years younger than the other.


The Romeo and Juliet clause was not retroactive, however, so Ms Whitaker is stuck on the register, and subject to extraordinary restrictions. Registered sex offenders in Georgia are barred from living within 1,000 feet of anywhere children may congregate, such as a school, a park, a library, or a swimming pool. They are also banned from working within 1,000 feet of a school or a child-care centre. Since the church at the end of Ms Whitaker’s street houses a child-care centre, she was evicted from her home. Her husband, who worked for the county dog-catching department, moved with her, lost his job and with it their health insurance.


Thanks to a lawsuit filed by the Southern Centre for Human Rights, a group that campaigns against rough justice, Ms Whitaker won an injunction allowing her to return home. But her husband did not get his job back, and now works as a labourer. The two of them are struggling financially. And Ms Whitaker is still fighting to get her name removed from the registry. “When you’re a teenager, you do stuff,” she says. “You don’t think you’ll be paying for it when you’re nearly 30.”


Every American state keeps a register of sex offenders. California has had one since 1947, but most states started theirs in the 1990s. Many people assume that anyone listed on a sex-offender registry must be a rapist or a child molester. But most states spread the net much more widely. A report by Sarah Tofte of Human Rights Watch, a pressure group, found that at least five states required men to register if they were caught visiting prostitutes. At least 13 required it for urinating in public (in two of which, only if a child was present). No fewer than 29 states required registration for teenagers who had consensual sex with another teenager. And 32 states registered flashers and streakers.

美国的每个州都将性犯罪者的信息登入名单系统。加州早在1947年就有了第一条记录,然而大多数州的工作还是从九十年代开始的。很多人都认为榜单上的人不是强奸犯,就是对曾儿童进行过猥亵,而事实是大多州政府的名单范围并不像人们想像的那样狭窄。人权观察组织——一个专门向政府施压的组织——的成员Sarah Tofte在报告中称,至少有五个州将曾经招妓的人们也纳入名单范围,也有至少13个州将在公共场合小便纳入范围(其中有两个州将小孩除外),不少于29个州将少年间的自愿性行为纳入在列,32个州的名单包括了暴露狂和裸奔者。

Because so many offences require registration, the number of registered sex offenders in America has exploded. As of December last year, there were 674,000 of them, according to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. If they were all crammed into a single state, it would be more populous than Wyoming, Vermont or North Dakota. As a share of its population, America registers more than four times as many people as Britain, which is unusually harsh on sex offenders. America’s registers keep swelling, not least because in 17 states, registration is for life.


Illustration by Noma Barr

Georgia has more than 17,000 registered sex offenders. Some are highly dangerous. But many are not. And it is fiendishly hard for anyone browsing the registry to tell the one from the other. The Georgia Sex Offender Registration Review Board, an official body, assessed a sample of offenders on the registry last year and concluded that 65% of them posed little threat. Another 30% were potentially threatening, and 5% were clearly dangerous. The board recommended that the first group be allowed to live and work wherever they liked. The second group could reasonably be barred from living or working in certain places, said the board, and the third group should be subject to tight restrictions and a lifetime of monitoring. A very small number “just over 100” are classified as “predators”, which means they have a compulsion to commit sex offences. When not in jail, predators must wear ankle bracelets that track where they are.


Despite the board’s findings, non-violent offenders remain listed and subject to a giant cobweb of controls. One rule, championed by Georgia’s House majority leader, banned them from living within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop. This proved unworkable. Thomas Brown, the sheriff of DeKalb county near Atlanta, mapped the bus stops in his patch and realised that he would have to evict all 490 of the sex offenders living there. Other than the bottom of a lake or the middle of a forest, there was hardly anywhere in Georgia for them to live legally. In the end Georgia’s courts stepped in and suspended the bus-stop rule, along with another barring sex offenders from volunteering in churches. But most other restrictions remain.


Sex-offender registries are popular. Rape and child molestation are terrible crimes that can traumatise their victims for life. All parents want to protect their children from sexual predators, so politicians can nearly always win votes by promising curbs on them. Those who object can be called soft on child-molesters, a label most politicians would rather avoid. This creates a ratchet effect. Every lawmaker who wants to sound tough on sex offenders has to propose a law tougher than the one enacted by the last politician who wanted to sound tough on sex offenders.


A self-defeating pillory


So laws get harsher and harsher. But that does not necessarily mean they get better. If there are thousands of offenders on a registry, it is harder to keep track of the most dangerous ones. Budgets are tight. Georgia’s sheriffs complain that they have been given no extra money or manpower to help them keep the huge and swelling sex-offenders’ registry up to date or to police its confusing mass of rules. Terry Norris of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association cites a man who was convicted of statutory rape two decades ago for having consensual sex with his high-school sweetheart, to whom he is now married. “It doesn’t make it right, but it doesn’t make him a threat to anybody,” says Mr Norris. “We spend the same amount of time on that guy as on someone who’s done something heinous.”

尽管法律越来越严厉,但这却并不一定是好事。如果名单中包含成千上万的人,那么追踪真正危险的犯人将会变得十分困难。由于财政吃紧,乔治亚州的官员抱怨他们已经没有多余的财政和人力去维护这个庞大的,并不断膨胀的登记记录的持续更新,更无力执行那些乱七八糟的规定。乔治亚州司法行政长官协会的Terry Norris举了一个例子,20年前一个男孩因为和高中时的情人发生了自愿的性行为而被判处了强奸罪,现在他已经结婚了。“我不是说他做的对,但他并没有伤害别人,”Norris说,“我们过去一直把这种行为和其它真正严重的犯罪混为一谈。“

Money spent on evicting sex offenders cannot be spent on treating them. Does this matter? Politicians pushing the get-tough approach sometimes claim that sex offenders are mostly incorrigible: that three-quarters or even nine out of ten of them reoffend. It is not clear where they find such numbers. A study of nearly 10,000 male sex offenders in 15 American states found that 5% were rearrested for a sex crime within three years. A meta-analysis of 29,000 sex offenders in Canada, Britain and America found that 24% had reoffended after 15 years.


That is obviously still too high. Whether or not treatment can help is disputed. A Californian study of sex offenders who underwent “relapse prevention”, counselling of the sort that alcoholics get from Alcoholics Anonymous, found that it was useless. But a meta-analysis of 23 studies by Karl Hanson of Canada’s department of public safety found that psychological therapy was associated with a 43% drop in recidivism. Some offenders—particularly men who rape boys—are extremely hard to treat. Some will never change until they are too old to feel sexual urges. But some types of treatment appear to work for some people and further research could yield more breakthroughs.

但这还是太高了。对性罪犯的治疗有没有效果现在还在争论。一个调查显示,加州的性犯罪者接受“再犯预防”——类似于酒鬼接受“匿名戒酒会“的治疗——完全没有效果。但是来自加拿大公共安全部门的Karl Hanson对23项有关这方面研究的综合分析表明,心理治疗可以使再次犯罪的几率下降43%。一些犯人——尤其是一些犯强奸罪的男孩——非常难以教育。一些人在只有衰老到没有性欲的时才会有所改变。但是这些方面的治疗还是有些效果的,长期研究也许可以有更大的突破。

Publicising sex offenders’ addresses makes them vulnerable to vigilantism. In April 2006, for example, a vigilante shot and killed two sex offenders in Maine after finding their addresses on the registry. One of the victims had been convicted of having consensual sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend when he was 19. In Washington state in 2005 a man posed as an FBI agent to enter the home of two sex offenders, warning them that they were on a “hit list” on the internet. Then he killed them.


Murders of sex offenders are rare, but harassment is common. Most of the offenders interviewed for this article said they had experienced it. “Bill”, who spent nine months in jail for having consensual sex with a 15-year-old when he was 27 and is now registered in North Carolina, says someone put up posters with his photograph on them around his district. (In at least four states, each offender’s profile on the online registry comes with a handy “click to print” function.) The local kids promptly stopped playing with Bill’s three children. And someone started leaving chopped-up sausages on his car, a possible reference to castration. Bill and his family moved house.


Jill Levenson, of Lynn University in Florida, says half of registered sex offenders have trouble finding jobs. From 20% to 40% say they have had to move house because a landlord or neighbour realised they were sex offenders. And most report feeling depressed, hopeless or afraid.

位于佛罗里达州林恩大学的Jill Levenson说,超过半数的名单上的性罪犯在找工作时遇到了麻烦。20%到40%的人在房东或邻居得知他们是性犯罪者后不得不搬家,他们大多数都感觉到沮丧,无助和担心。

“Mike” spent a year and a half behind bars for statutory rape after having sex with a girl who said she was 17, but was two years younger. He was 22 at the time. Since his release, he has struggled to hold down a job. Once, he found work as a security guard, but his probation officer told him to quit, since the uniform lent him an air of authority, which would not do.


He is now unemployed, and lives in a flophouse in Atlanta between a jail and a strip club. The area is too desolate to have any schools or parks, so he is allowed to live there. His neighbours are mostly other sex offenders and mentally ill folk who talk to themselves. “It’s Bumville,” sighs Mike. His ambition is to get a job, keep it and move out. Any job will do, he says.


Several studies suggest that making it harder for sex offenders to find a home or a job makes them more likely to reoffend. Gwenda Willis and Randolph Grace of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, for example, found that the lack of a place to live was “significantly related to sexual recidivism”. Candace Kruttschnitt and Christopher Uggen of the University of Minnesota and Kelly Shelton of the Minnesota Department of Corrections tracked 556 sex offenders on probation and found less recidivism among those with a history of stable employment.

多项研究证实,由于生活困难和居无定所,他们极有可能再次犯罪。例如,纽西兰州坎特伯雷大学的Gwenda Willis 和 Randolph Grace 发现居无定所是“极其容易引起再次性犯罪的“。明尼苏达州大学的Candace Kruttschnitt 和Christopher Uggen与明尼苏达罪犯改造部的Kelly Shelton跟踪了556名缓刑期间的性罪犯,发现有着稳定工作历史的犯人的再犯罪率较低。

Some bosses do not mind hiring sex offenders, if they know the full story and the offender does not seem dangerous. But an accessible online registry makes it all but certain that a colleague or a customer will find out about a sexual conviction. Sex offenders often report being sacked for no apparent reason. Mike had a job at a cake shop. His boss knew about his record. But one day, without warning, he was fired.


Publicly accessible sex-offender registries are intended to keep people safe. But there is little evidence that they do. A study by Kristen Zgoba of the New Jersey Department of Corrections found that the state’s system for registering sex offenders and warning their neighbours cost millions of dollars and had no discernible effect on the number of sex crimes. Restricting where sex offenders can live is supposed to keep them away from potential victims, but it is doubtful that this works. A determined predator can always catch a bus.

公开性犯罪者的登记信息原意是为了保护公众,然而收效甚微。新泽西州罪犯改造部的Kristen Zgoba 的研究表明,各州花了上千万美元来打造这个名单系统,旨在警告那些性罪犯的邻居所处的危险,但是却没有有效的减少性犯罪的数量。限制性犯罪者的居住地以使他们远离潜在的受害者,这种做法的效果使人怀疑,因为“掠食者”可以随时搭乘巴士。

Laws that make life hard for sex offenders also affect their families. A survey by Ms Levenson found that 86% of family members felt stressed because of registration and residence rules, and 49% feared for their own safety. “It’s very difficult,” says Bill. “Pretty much all the things that make you a good father are now illegal for me to do.” He cannot take his children to a park, a pool, or a museum. He cannot be at any of their school events. And his children are ostracised. “The parents find out I’m registered and that’s it,” he sighs.


The penalties for sex offenders who break the rules can be severe. In Georgia the first time you fail to provide an accurate address or register annually with the county sheriff to be photographed and fingerprinted, you face ten to 30 years in prison. The second time: life. Yet because living on a public sex-offender registry is so wretched, many abscond.


Some states have decided that harsher sex laws are not always better. Iowa has sharply reduced the number of sex offences for which residency restrictions apply. Previously, all Iowan sex offenders who had abused children were barred from living within 2,000 feet of a school or child-care centre. Since where offenders lived was defined as where they slept, many would spend the day at home with their families and sleep at night in their cars at a highway rest stop. “That made no sense,” says Corwin Ritchie of the Iowa County Attorneys Association. “We don’t try to monitor where possible bank robbers sleep.”

一些州已经意识到严酷的法律效果并不那么好。爱荷华州的性犯罪数量曾因为居住限制的实施而骤降。先前,该州所有有过猥亵儿童行为的性罪犯的居住地必须距离学校和幼儿园2,000英尺以外。由于居住地是指那些犯人睡觉的地方,使得很多人白天在家而晚上睡在车或高速公路的休息站里。“真的没有意义,”爱荷华县律师协会的Corwin Ritchie说,“就像我们不用关心银行抢劫犯可能睡在哪一样。“

The Iowan politicians who relaxed the law gave themselves cover by adding a new rule against “loitering” near schools. Mr Ritchie thinks the new rules are better, but he would rather get rid of the residency restrictions entirely and let probation officers make recommendations for each individual offender.


No quarter


Nationwide, the trend is to keep getting stricter. In 1994 Congress ordered all states that had not yet done so to set up sex-offender registries or lose some funding. Two years later it ordered them to register the most serious offenders for life. In 2006 it passed the Adam Walsh Act, named for a six-year-old boy who was kidnapped and beheaded, broadening the categories of offence for which registration is required and obliging all states to upload their registries to a national database. States had until this summer to comply with that provision. Some objected. In May they were given another year’s breathing space.

放眼全国,形势越来越严峻。1994年国会要求没有建立名单登记制度的各州要尽快去建,否则会被削减当年财政。两年后又要求那些曾犯下严重罪行的人的登记信息要被存留一生。在2006年又推行Adam Walsh法案,这名儿童在六岁那年被诱拐后斩首致死,人们纪念他推行了该同名的法案。该法案拓宽了名单包含的犯罪种类,并要求各州积极将他们的名单信息上传到国家数据库。截至今年夏天各州必须执行这条规定。有些州表示了反对,在今年5月国会决定给予这些州一年的时间去调整。

Illustration by Noma Barr

Other countries now seem to be following America’s lead. Hottest on its heels is Britain, where the sex-offenders’ registry includes children as young as 11. The British list is not open to the public, but in some areas parents may ask for a check on anyone who has unsupervised access to their child. France, too, now has a closed national directory of sex-offenders, as does Austria, which brought in some American-style movement restrictions on sex offenders earlier this year. After the disappearance in Portugal in 2007 of Madeleine McCann, a British toddler, some European politicians have called for a pan-European registry.


Human Rights Watch urges America to scale back its sex-offender registries. Those convicted of minor, non-violent offences should not be required to register, says Ms Tofte. Nor should juveniles. Sex offenders should be individually assessed, and only those judged likely to rape someone or abuse a child should be registered. Such decisions should be regularly reviewed and offenders who are rehabilitated (or who grow too old to reoffend) should be removed from the registry. The information on sex-offender registries should be held by the police, not published online, says Ms Tofte, and released “on a need-to-know basis”. Blanket bans on all sex offenders living and working in certain areas should be abolished. Instead, it makes sense for the most dangerous offenders sometimes to face tailored restrictions as a condition of parole.


That package of reforms would bring America in line with the strictest laws in other rich countries. But few politicians would have the courage to back it. “Jane”, the mother of a sex offender in Georgia, says she sent a letter to her senator, Saxby Chambliss, urging such reforms. “They didn’t even read it,” she says. “They just sent me a form letter assuring me that they were in favour of every sex offender law, and that [Senator Chambliss] has grandchildren he wants to protect.”

一系列的改革能使美国与其他强国拥有一样很严格的法律,但是几乎没有政客有勇气去支持。乔治亚州的一名性罪犯,“Jane”,说他曾经给当地参议员Saxby Chambliss写过一封信,呼吁那些改革。“他们连读都没读”,她说,“回信只说他们会保证支持每一条有关性侵犯的法律,而且他(Senator Chambliss)也有需要他去保护的孙子孙女们。“

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Rank: 22Rank: 22Rank: 22Rank: 22

发表于 2010-3-18 03:55 | 显示全部楼层
你的小标题译得好:严惩后的反思,弄巧成拙的公示制度 学习!学习!
也指出一些问题:rough justice 是否应该译成“简单裁决”
but leaving the specifics of the crime to each viewer’s fearful imagination.这一句我跟你译得不一样交流一下。
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Rank: 22Rank: 22Rank: 22Rank: 22

发表于 2010-3-18 03:55 | 显示全部楼层
你说的对,rough justice译成草率判决也许更合适。我也是刚刚开始练习翻译,大家一起加油
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