[20180710] (在美國) 無罪的人爲什要接受認罪協議

Plea Bargaining and the Innocent

by U.S. District Judge John Kane of Colorado @theMarshallProject.org

學者做了估算,得出美國大約有 2 – 8 % 的刑事定罪冤枉了無辜的人,如果以美國監獄系統內 220 萬人來算,等於有 4.4 萬到 17.6 萬無辜的人被關在監獄。這麼多錯判的原因並不是陪審團或法官的責任,而是美國刑事司法系統內極高的認罪協議 (guilty plea) 比例。

聯邦等級的刑事定罪有 97% 是藉由認罪協議,州等級的有 94 %,這和我們從電視上看到的法庭攻防完全不一樣,認罪協議的參與雙方是辯護律師和被告,具體的刑期也主要是有檢察官和被告協議達成。法官可能要在並沒有見到任何證物、也沒有見過任何證人的情況下做決定:

Each of these changes, whether imposed by the Supreme Court or Congress, has forced judges to reevaluate the means by which they dispense justice in cases where they have not seen any evidence or heard from any witnesses.

爲什麼無辜的人要認罪?因爲如果上法庭仍然被錯誤定罪,所獲得的刑期會更高 (至少檢察官希望被告這麼認爲),在恐懼下無辜的人才選擇了最大傷害比較小的道路:

In particular, he wanted to focus on the sentencing of people who are innocent but who have chosen to take plea deals for fear of being wrongfully convicted.

作者認爲爲圖方便大量使用認罪協議,已經讓 “正義” 的天平遭到了扭曲,司法體制應該更加尊重個人,而不是成爲機械化的流水線:

Sentencing should never be easy. It should never be cryptic and it should never be mechanistic, the product of senselessly following a matrix. A judge’s job is to synthesize and harmonize the competing narratives of the persons involved in the events of the crime with the specific intent of inclusiveness.

But putting the thumb of convenience on the scales of justice is precisely what causes the innocent to plead guilty. It is the inevitable result of a laconic adherence to a thoughtless and passionless process. And we all can do something more about it.

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