The New Yorker – Mar.14, 2016

THE LIST, by Sarah Stillman

这篇纪实把我们的视角拉到一个也许略有耳闻但却不会刻意关注的角落,青少年犯罪/罪犯。美国大部分州的司法系统中都有一个数据库,上面登记了因侵犯未成年而留下案底的罪犯信息,这个公开的数据库里,不仅有成年人,还有很多未成年人。通常,这个记录会伴随他们长达二十年之久,远远长于他们服刑(或者“劳教”)的期限,也因此对他们的未来之路产生了不可逆转的影响。本文以一种类纪录片式的手法,穿插在三个主要人物(Leah DuBuc,Patty Wetterling,Anthony Metts)中间,为我们生动而深刻地刻画了他们的切身经历和感受,抛出了对该数据库系统(The List)的疑问,是一篇冷静而极富人文关怀的纪录范本。

Leah DuBuc 只是众多被登记在 Public Sex Offender Registry Web 中的一个,她和很多人一样,因为在未成年时所犯下的“错误”,就被贴上了这样一个标签,“CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT”。作者走访了许多这样的案例:“In Charlie Roberts’s living room, not far from Paris, Texas, I learned how, at the age of ten, Roberts had pulled down the pants of a male classmate at her public elementary school. She was prosecuted for ‘indecency with a child’, and added to the state’s online offender database for the next ten years.” 不仅如此,Charlie 每晚六点后不得离开家门,不能随意离开自己的 county,或者亲近任何“minority children”。作者也采访了这个案件的受害人,“he was shocked to learn of Roberts’s fate. He described the playground offense as an act of ‘public humiliation, instead of a sexual act’ — a harmful prank, but hardly a sex crime.” 类似这样的事例不胜枚举,在弗吉尼亚,一名十七岁的高中生因向他的女朋友发 sexual video 而受到指控(“manufacturing and distributing child pornography”)。在北卡罗来纳,“a sixteen-year old girl faced multiple felony charges for ‘sexting’ a picture of herself to her boyfriend.” 随之而来的就是定罪和被迫离开自己的家,到“少管所”呆上好几年,出来之后面临着种种难题:“Homelessness; getting fired from jobs; taking jobs below minimum wage, with predatory employers; not being able to provide for your kids; losing your kids; relationship problems; deep inner problems connecting with people; deep depression and hopelessness; this fear of your own name; the terror of being Googled.

Leah DuBuc 在她十二岁的时候被送到了位于伊利诺伊州 Manteno的一家 residential juvenile-sex-offender treatment facility,叫作 Indian Oak Academy。“She was the youngest child in her program … Many of the girls there were sixteen or seventeen, with histories of trauma that surfaces as rage. The older girls … verbally and physically abused one another, and occasionally her.” 作者介绍说,“The program borrowed heavily from addition theory. ‘Your identity is you’re a sex offender’ … They’d never be cured, but they could learn to refrain from harming people in the future.” 也许对另一类人来说,在少管所里接受“再造”是逃离“turbulent home life” 再好不过的方式,但在 Elizabeth Letourneau 教授(约翰霍普金斯大学 Moore Center of the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse 中心主任)眼中,“this idea that a ten-year-old kid who does something sexually inappropriate needs residential treatment is completely insane.” 伊丽莎白教授指出,“most youths who are charged with a sex offense don’t reoffend sexually. The motives behind their crimes, too, are different from those of most adults who sexually offend.” 而且让人更加担忧的是,这些“少年再教育机构”的资质和管理良莠不齐,作者说,“in some parts of the country, I found a cottage industry of court-authorized but poorly regulated therapy providers subjecting kids and teens to widely debunked technologies. Juveniles undergoing treatment of sex offenses have been exposed to severe verbal abuse, beatings, and even sexual predation at residential facilities. Not a few people have been placed in dubious but costly treatment programs for actions that many believe should never have been placed in the first place.

这类青少年案件中还有一类叫作“Romeo and Juliet case”,即和未成年间的 consensual relationship,Anthony Metts 在二十一岁的时候因此而被判了十年的察看(probation)。“For the next decade, he’d be barred from alcohol and the Internet; from entering the vicinity of schools, parks, bus stops, malls, and movie theaters; from living within a thousand feet of a ‘child-safety zone’. A mugshot of his curly-haired, round-cheeked face would appear for life on the Texas sex-offender registry, beside the phrase ‘Sexual Assault of Child’. And he would have to start sex-offender treatment.” 这个“治疗计划”的内容是常人难以想象的:“He was told to write up a detailed sexual history, and then to discuss it with a room full of adults, some of whom had repeatedly committed child assaults. On his first day of class, he recalls, he entered a group circle beside a dentist who had violated several patients while they were under anesthesia. To graduate, he would have to narrate his ‘assaults’ in detail: “How many buttons on her shirt did you unbutton?’” 不仅如此, 一种叫作PPG的技术还被用在他身上,“According to documents provided by the state of Texas, the PPG … is a ‘sophisticated computerized instrument capable of measuring slight changes in the circumference of the penis’.” 这种技术在上个世纪五十年代由捷克的一个 sexologist 发明,起初被用来检测那些假冒成同性恋从而可以不用参军的人们。美国的许多州都明令禁止使用PPG。Anthony 需要定期参加这个“检查”,每一次花费两百美元。

Anthony 经历了几次被炒鱿鱼之后,在德州米德兰市的油田找了一份工作,2006年他与当地一位警长的女儿相爱,很快他们就结婚并且生下一个女儿,一切似乎都向好的发现发展。但是,“it also introduced him to a troubling new aspect of his life on the registry. Metts, then twenty-four, learned that he wouldn’t be allowed to see his daughter. His status banned him from living with her, and thus with his wife.” 这只是厄运的开始,他后来被强制在脚踝上栓一个 bracelet,“administered by a private monitoring company that charged several hundred dollars a month. The device would notify the authorities of any infractions  — stepping too close to a mall, park, bar, or church, or leaving the county without permission.” 经历了一段徘徊和挣扎之后,在经济和精神的双重压力下,他决定与妻子离婚。十年“察看”期的最后一年,在一个五月的阳光午后和朋友的家庭聚会里,由于忘了给 bracelet 及时充电被 probation officer 发现,Anthony 被再次送上法庭,“The prosecutor pushed for two years in prison, arguing that the long list of Metts’s technical infraction was ‘not just a fluke … not just ‘Oops, I messed up.” Metts’s attorney urged alternatives that would be less costly for taxpayers. None of Metts’s violations, he noted, had any connection to the original charge of sexual assaults of a child. A typical mistake was failing to charge his ankle bracelet’s battery. The judge took some time to think it over. The next morning, she sentenced Metts to ten years in prison.

让我们把视线再拉回到 Leah DuBuc 身上,从 Indian Oaks 出来后,她考取了当地一所大学,开始了新的生活。然而与此同时,她被密歇根执法机构告知自己须在一个 online registry 上注册,每年登记自己的详细信息,而且在满十八岁后,这些信息将在网上公开。她自己后来写道,“This is where my life became a living hell all over again.” 在学校里, 尽管是一名经常拿到奖学金的好学生,她还是遭受到了这样或那样的不公对待,有一天上课回到宿舍,她在门上发现一张字条,上面写着“We know you’re a sex offender. GET OUT OF OUR ROOM.” 第一个学期的寒假,她的男朋友邀请她去他另一个镇子上的家作客,她答应了,但是按照规定 Leah 需要在那个镇上的警局登记。在 Brighton Police Post,当她在前台告诉 trooper 说她是一名 registered sexual offender 时,得到的回应是,“We don’t serve your kind here. You better leave before I take you out back and shoot you myself.

这一切并没有击垮 Leah,意识到自己无法回避 public registry 之后,她决定开始研究她,以自己的努力设法对这个系统做出一点改变。她开始在网上写自己的故事,写信给当地的立法人员为她和很多与她有相似经历的人请愿。这些并没有收到太多实质的成效,2008年硕士毕业后,她的 sexual offender 身份使得找到一份像样工作的可能性依旧是微乎其微。最终,她决定离开美国。

作者在去年七月亲自去了一趟德州米德兰市,想要找到那位在 Anthony Metts 案件中的“受害女孩”,当然,她现在早已经长大成人了。“Having no luck with doorbells, I left notes, and two days later I got a call from one of them. ‘I never wanted Anthony to be prosecuted,’ she told me. ‘It was a consensual relationship — the kind when you’re young and you’re stupid. My mom knew about it. We’d go on dates, drive around, hang out.’ She was shocked to learn of Metts’s fate: his nine-plus years of probation, his current decade of incarceration. ‘I told [law enforcement] that I didn’t feel like he should have to be prosecuted,’ she said.

作者在过去的两年里也定期和 Metts 本人保持通话联系,这一次她也专门前去探望他。几经辗转,Metts 已经被安置在德州东部非常偏远的一所监狱。说起他们见面的过程,作者写道,“‘I thought, by the time we finally met, we’d be on the rooftop at the Hilton,’ he said, laughing halfheartedly. For most of the next four hours, he spoke of how he planned to get through the coming decade. ‘In my mind, I don’t live here,’ he told me. He spends his days reading business and life-style magazines and making plans to return to his daughter, who is now eight. ‘I look forward to being the dad she deserves, the dad I feel I am,’ he said. ‘I miss reading her stories. Getting doughnuts with her, helping her with her homework, brushing her hair. Everything. Everything.’

后来 Leah DuBuc 去了日本,那里和几乎任何除了美国的其他国家一样,没有网上数据库。Leah 在那里教英文,并不久遇见了一个叫做 Kimo 的菲律宾男人。他们不久后在印度班加罗尔完婚,又返回日本,在那里他们的儿子降生。直到有一天,“she received a flurry of Facebook messages from Sharon Denniston, her juvenile advocate in Michigan. Denniston had been pushing the legislative reforms that DuBuc had helped promote. ‘Be sure you are sitting down,’ she wrote. ‘Juveniles that were less than 14 at the time of their offense will be straight out removed from the registry: no hearing, no court visit, no paperwork to fill out!’” 作者并没有描写 Leah 当时的具体反应,她只说,“DuBuc decided to take her family home.

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