GRE精选双语阅读:Criminal justice in Japan

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2016-11-15 16:51


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  Criminal justice in Japan——Forced to confess


  Suspects in Japanese police cells are far too vulnerable to abuse



  ON THE face of it Japan's system of criminal justice looks as if it gets a lot right. Crime rates are lower in Japan than almost anywhere else—the murder rate is less than a tenth of America's. Those arrested for minor wrongdoing are treated with exceptional leniency. Less than one in 20 Japanese deemed to have committed a penal offence go to prison, compared with one in three of those arrested in America, where the average jail term is much longer. In Japan the emphasis is on rehabilitation, especially of young offenders. The rates of recidivism are admirably low, partly because the state is adept at involving families in reforming those who stray.


  Yet the state's benign paternalism has a dark side. The chief reason the system looks good is that Japan is a remarkably safe society. And where once police worked closely with local communities to solve crimes, now they struggle to catch criminals. The system relies on confessions, which form the basis of nine-tenths of criminal prosecutions. Many confessions are extracted under duress. Some of those who admit guilt are plainly innocent, as recent exonerations have shown. The extraordinary lack of safeguards for suspects in Japanese interrogation cells is a stain on the whole system, failing victims as well as those wrongly convicted.


  Say you did it, even if you didn't

  欲加之罪 何患无辞

  In a country more inclined than the West to think of itself as a big family collective, admission of guilt is often seen as the first step to readmission into society. It is also the surest route to a conviction. Prosecutors and police are thus under immense pressure to make suspects talk, and have powerful tools to encourage them to do so.


  Common criminal suspects may be held in detention for 23 days without charge. Many have only minimal contact with a lawyer. Few interrogations are recorded, and then not in their entirety, so there is not much to stop interrogators piling in. Physical torture is rare, but sleep deprivation, which is just as effective, is common. So are various other forms of psychological coercion. Some interrogators use moral blackmail (“Think of the shame you are bringing on your family”). A few, if they are convinced that the suspect is guilty, simply fabricate a confession and press the suspect into signing it.


  In a court system without an adversarial approach to establish innocence and guilt, judges too rarely question whether confessions really are voluntary. Yet time and again innocent people have been shown to confess to crimes in the hope of a more lenient sentence—or simply to make the interrogation stop. In October a mother convicted of killing her daughter for the insurance money was released after a crime reconstruction proved her innocence. Last year Iwao Hakamada was freed after 46 years on death row when a judge declared that his conviction was unsafe (among other things, he appears to have been tortured at the time of his arrest). One lawyer estimates that a tenth of all convictions leading to prison are based on false confessions. It is impossible to know the true figure, but when 99.8% of prosecutions end in a guilty verdict, it is clear that the scales of justice are out of balance.

  在没有抗辩制度确认无罪或有罪的法庭中,法官很少质疑被告人悔罪是否出于自愿。然而屡次无辜者曾被指示:供出罪行便有希望获得较轻处罚——或者仅仅只为终止审问。十月,一位曾被指控为谋保险金而杀死自己女儿的母亲,在案卷重审后得意无罪释放。去年,经历了46年死囚生涯的Iwao Hakamada也被释放,因为法官宣布证据不足,不能认定他有罪(从其他方面,他似乎在被抓捕期间已经备受折磨)。据一位律师估计,所有获罪入狱的罪犯中有十分之一是基于不实的供认。虽不可能了解这背后的真实数据,但是99.8%的起诉案件最后都是认定犯罪嫌疑人有罪。由此可见,司法公正已明显荡然无存。

  As a step towards restoring due process, all interrogations should be filmed from start to finish. Suspects should have ready access to defense counsel, to whom prosecutors should also disclose all evidence. Interrogations should be much shorter; suspects should be properly rested. Investigators who fabricate evidence should be put in the dock themselves. Prosecution cases should rely more on detective work, and less on self-incrimination. Such reforms would not improve conditions in Japan's psychologically brutal prisons (see article).But they would give the innocent a better chance of keeping their liberty.








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