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  • Since 2000, the annual number of people convicted of crimes in the United States

    譯者: Lilian Chiu 審譯者: Helen Chang

  • has stayed steady, but the average number of people in jail each year has shot up.

    自 2000 年起,

  • How can that be?

    美國每年犯罪的人數一直都很穩定,

  • The answer lies in the bail system

    但每年坐牢的平均人數卻飆升。

  • which isn't doing what it was intended to do.

    怎麼會這樣?

  • The term "bail" refers to the release of people awaiting trial

    答案藏在保釋制度當中——

  • on condition that they return to court to face charges.

    這個制度並沒有做到它的本意。

  • Countries around the world use many variations of bail,

    「保釋」一詞指的是 將等候審判的人釋放出來,

  • and some don't use it at all.

    條件是他們要返回法庭面對控訴。

  • The U.S. bail system relies primarily on what's called cash bail,

    全世界各地的國家 有各種不同形式的保釋,

  • which was supposed to work like this:

    有些國家甚至沒有保釋。

  • When a person was accused of a crime,

    美國保釋制度主要仰賴 所謂的現金保釋金,

  • the judge would set a reasonable price for bail.

    它的運作方式理當是這樣的:

  • The accused would pay this fee in order to be released from jail

    當有人被指控犯罪時,

  • until the court reached a verdict on the case.

    法官會定出合理的保釋金價格。

  • Once the case ended, whether found guilty or innocent,

    被告支付這筆費用後 就會被釋放,離開監獄,

  • they'd get the bail money back if they made all their court appearances.

    直到法庭對他的案件做出裁決。

  • The rationale behind this system is that under U.S. law,

    案件結束後,不論他被認定有罪或無辜,

  • people are presumed innocent until proven guilty

    只要該出席法庭時都有到場, 就能把保釋金拿回來。

  • so someone accused of a crime should not be imprisoned

    這個體制背後的基本理由是, 在美國法律之下,

  • unless they've been convicted of a crime.

    每個人在證明有罪之前 都會被假設是無辜的——

  • But today, the bail system in the U.S.

    所以被控訴犯罪的人不應該被囚禁,

  • doesn't honor the presumption of innocence.

    除非他被定罪。

  • Instead, it subverts peoples' rights and causes serious harm,

    但現今的美國保釋制度

  • particularly to people in low-income communities

    並沒有尊重這個無辜的前題假設。

  • and communities of color.

    反之,這個制度破壞了 人民的權利並造成嚴重的傷害,

  • A key reason why is the cost of bail.

    特別是對低收入族群

  • In order for cash bail to work as intended,

    以及有色人種族群。

  • the price has to be affordable for the accused.

    關鍵原因是保釋金的價碼。

  • The cost of bail wasn't meant to reflect the likelihood of someone's guilt

    如果要讓現金保釋金 做到原本的目的,

  • when bail is set, the court has not reviewed evidence.

    就應該是被告負擔得起的價碼。

  • Under exceptional circumstances, such as charges of very serious crimes,

    保釋金的價碼不應該是在反應 被告確實有罪的可能性——

  • judges could deny bail and jail the accused before their trial.

    設定保釋金的數額時, 法庭尚未檢視過證據。

  • Judges were supposed to exercise this power very rarely,

    在特殊的情況中,

  • and could come under scrutiny for using it too often.

    比如因非常嚴重的犯罪而被罪起訴,

  • Setting unaffordably high bail became a second path

    法官可以否決保釋,並在審判前 就先將被告關入監牢。

  • to denying people pretrial release.

    法官會行使此權力的機率本應很低,

  • Judges' personal discretion and prejudices played a huge role

    如果太常使用,應該會受到監督。

  • in who they chose to detain this way.

    定下高到無法負擔的保釋金

  • Bail amounts climbed higher and higher, and more and more defendants couldn't pay

    成了不讓被告在審判前 被釋放的第二種途徑。

  • so they stayed in jail.

    至於法官要不要 用這種方式來拘留被告,

  • By the late 19th century,

    有很大一部分取決於 法官的個人考量和偏見。

  • these circumstances led to the rise of commercial bail bond companies.

    保釋金金額越來越高,

  • They pay a defendant's bail, in exchange for a hefty fee the company keeps.

    越來越多被告無法支付——

  • Today, the median bail is $10,000—

    所以他們留在監獄中。

  • a prohibitively high price for almost half of Americans,

    到了十九世紀末,

  • and as many as nine out of ten defendants.

    這種情況導致牟利的 保證保釋金公司的興起。

  • If the defendant can't pay,

    它們會幫被告支付保釋金, 交換條件是收取高額的手續費。

  • they may apply for a loan from a commercial bail bond company.

    現今,保釋金的中位數 是一萬美金——

  • It's completely up to the company to decide whose bail they'll pay.

    對近半的美國人而言 這個價格都高得嚇人,

  • They choose defendants they think will pay them back,

    對高達九成的被告而言亦然。

  • turning a profit of about $2 billion each year.

    如果被告付不起,

  • In fact, in the past 20 years,

    他們可以向牟利的保證保釋金公司貸款。

  • pretrial detention has been the main driver of jail growth in America.

    完全由公司自己決定 要幫誰支付保釋金。

  • Every year, hundreds of thousands of people

    它們會選擇它們認為會還款的被告,

  • who can't afford bail or secure a loan stay in jail until their case is resolved.

    每年獲利約二十億美元。

  • This injustice disproportionately affects Americans who are Black and Latino,

    事實上,在過去二十年間,

  • for whom judges often set higher bail

    美國監禁人數增加的主要原因 就是審判前的拘留。

  • than for white people accused of the same offenses.

    每年有數十萬人 負擔不起保釋金、無法取得貸款,

  • Unaffordable bail puts even innocent defendants in an impossible position.

    得待監獄中等候他們的案件裁決。

  • Some end up pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit.

    這種不公平,對美國黑人 及拉丁裔的影響大到不成比例,

  • For minor offenses, the prosecution may offer a deal that credits time

    因為,針對同樣的犯罪,

  • already spent in jail toward the accused's sentence

    法官對這些人定的保釋金 會比白人被告更高。

  • if they plead guilty.

    高到無法負擔的保釋金, 甚至會讓無辜的被告陷入困境。

  • Often, the time they've already spent in jail is the total length of the sentence,

    有些明明沒有犯罪的人 最後卻認罪了。

  • and they can go home immediatelybut they leave with a criminal record.

    輕罪的情況下, 檢方可能會提出協議,

  • Defending their innocence, meanwhile,

    將已經待在監獄中的時間 從被告的刑期中扣除,

  • can mean staying in jail indefinitely awaiting trial

    條件是被告要認罪。

  • and doesn't guarantee an innocent verdict.

    通常,他們待在監獄中的時間 已經足以抵掉全部刑期,

  • Bail may not even be necessary in the first place.

    他們可以馬上回家—— 但會留下前科。

  • Washington, D.C. largely abolished cash bail in the 1990s.

    想為自己的無辜辯護可能就表示

  • In 2017, the city released 94% of defendants without holding bail money,

    在監獄中無止境地等候審判——

  • and 88% of them returned to all their court dates.

    且還不保證會被裁定是無辜的。

  • The nonprofit organization, The Bail Project,

    可能打從一開始就根本不需要保釋。

  • provides free bail assistance to thousands of low-income people every year,

    九○年代時華盛頓 就已經大致廢除現金保釋了。

  • removing the financial incentive that bail is designed to create.

    2017 年,

  • The result? People come back to 90% of their court dates

    該市釋放了 94% 的被告, 且沒有收取保釋金,

  • without having any money on the line,

    當中 88% 的人在每次 出庭日都有出席。

  • and those who miss their court dates tended to

    非營利組織「保釋計畫」

  • because of circumstances like child care, work conflicts, or medical crises.

    每年提供免費的保釋協助 給數千名低受入者,

  • Studies have also found that holding people in jail before trial,

    讓設計保釋時希望能創造的 財務獎勵機作用不復存在,

  • often because they cannot afford cash bail,

    結果呢?即使沒有任何錢的壓力,

  • actually increases the likelihood of rearrests and reoffending.

    被告仍然有出席九成的出庭日,

  • The damage of incarcerating people before their trials

    而沒有出席的通常是因為

  • extends to entire communities and can harm families for generations.

    照顧孩子、工作衝突, 或醫療急事等狀況。

  • People who are incarcerated can lose their livelihoods, homes,

    研究也發現,通常因為 被告無法負擔現金保釋金

  • and access to essential services

    而在審判前把被告關在監獄中,

  • all before they've been convicted of a crime.

    其實增加再次被捕和再犯的可能。

  • It's also incredibly expensive:

    在審判前監禁被告所造成的損害

  • American taxpayers spend nearly $14 billion every year

    會波及整個族群, 且會傷害數世代的家人。

  • incarcerating people who are legally presumed innocent.

    被監禁的人可能會失去 他們的生計、住家,

  • This undermines the promise of equal justice under the law,

    以及取得基礎服務的管道——

  • regardless of race or wealth.

    這些都發生在他們被定罪之前。

  • The issues surrounding cash bail are symptomatic of societal problems,

    這些代價也非常高昂:

  • like structural racism and over-reliance on incarceration,

    美國納稅人每年要花 近一百四十億美金

  • that need to be addressed.

    來監禁那些在法律上 應被假設為無辜的人。

  • In the meantime, reformers like The Bail Project

    這個做法會動搖法律能確保平等正義

  • are working to help people trapped by cash bail

    不受種族或財富影響的保證。

  • and to create a more just and humane pretrial system for the future.

    現金保釋金相關的議題 是社會問題的症狀,

Since 2000, the annual number of people convicted of crimes in the United States

譯者: Lilian Chiu 審譯者: Helen Chang

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The problem with the U.S. bail system - Camilo Ramirez

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    林宜悉 發佈於 2020 年 12 月 03 日
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