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她在狱中成为杰出的历史学者,却被哈佛拒之门外

更新时间:2017-9-17 11:20:59 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

From Prison to Ph.D.: The Redemption and Rejection of Michelle Jones
她在狱中成为杰出的历史学者,却被哈佛拒之门外

Michelle Jones was released last month after serving more than two decades in an Indiana prison for the murder of her 4-year-old son. The very next day, she arrived at New York University, a promising doctoral candidate in American studies.

因谋杀自己4岁的儿子而在印第安纳州一座监狱服刑逾20年的米歇尔·琼斯(Michelle Jones)于上月获释。出狱第二天,她就以一名前途无量的美国研究博士候选人的身份来到纽约大学(New York University)。

In a breathtaking feat of rehabilitation, Jones, now 45, became a published scholar of American history while behind bars and presented her work by videoconference to historians’ conclaves and the Indiana General Assembly. With no internet access and a prison library that hewed toward romance novels, she led a team of inmates that pored through reams of photocopied documents from the Indiana State Archives to produce the Indiana Historical Society’s best research project last year. As prisoner No. 970554, Jones also wrote several dance compositions and historical plays, one of which is slated to open at an Indianapolis theater in December.

现年45岁的琼斯取得了非凡的改造成果。服刑期间,她成为了一名发表过学术作品的美国史学者,并以视频通话的方式在一些历史学大会和印第安纳州议会(Indiana General Assembly)上推介了自己的作品。在没有上网的机会,以及监狱图书馆中主要是爱情小说的情况下,她带领一队犯人研读大量来自印第安纳州档案馆(Indiana State Archives)的影印资料,完成了印第安纳州历史学会(Indiana Historical Society)去年最出色的研究项目。作为犯人970554号的琼斯,还写了几部舞剧和历史剧,其中一部定于11月在印第安纳波利斯的一家剧院开演。

NYU was one of several top schools that recruited her for their doctoral programs. She was also among 18 selected from more than 300 applicants to Harvard University’s history program. But in a rare override of a department’s authority to choose its graduate students, Harvard’s top brass overturned Jones’ admission after some professors raised concerns that she played down her crime in the application process.

纽约大学是招收她去攻读博士课程的若干所顶尖大学之一。她还曾跻身哈佛大学(Harvard University)从申请攻读历史学位的300多人当中选出的18名幸运儿之列。但由于一些教授质疑琼斯在申请过程中淡化自己的罪行,系里自行选择研究生的权力罕见地遭到否定,哈佛大学高层取消了她的录取资格。

Elizabeth Hinton, one of the Harvard historians who backed Jones, called her “one of the strongest candidates in the country last year, period.” The case “throws into relief,” she added, the question of “how much do we really believe in the possibility of human redemption?”

支持琼斯的哈佛大学历史学者之一伊丽莎白·欣顿(Elizabeth Hinto)称她为“去年全美最强的申请人之一,就这么简单”。欣顿还说,此事“突显”了这样一个问题:“我们到底有多相信人类得到救赎的可能性?”

The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that focuses on criminal justice and produced this article for The New York Times, obtained internal emails and memos related to Jones’ application and interviewed eight professors and administrators involved in reviewing it.

聚焦于刑事司法问题,并为《纽约时报》带来这篇文章的非营利新闻机构马歇尔计划(The Marshall Project),拿到了与琼斯的入学申请有关的内部电邮和备忘录,还采访了八名与申请审核工作有关的教授和管理人员。

While top Harvard officials typically rubber-stamp departmental admissions decisions, in this case the university’s leadership — including the president, provost and deans of the graduate school — reversed one, according to the emails and interviews, out of concern that her background would cause a backlash among rejected applicants, conservative news outlets or parents of students.

哈佛大学高层通常会例行公事地批准系里的录取决定,但电邮和访谈表明,这一次,该校领导层——包括校长、教务长和研究生院的院长们——不同意录取琼斯,因为担心她的背景会在被拒的申请者、保守派媒体或者学生家长中间引发反弹。

The admissions dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences declined to be interviewed, and a university spokeswoman did not respond to a set of eight questions about the case, saying that “as a policy, we do not comment on individual applicants.”

哈佛大学文理研究生院(Graduate School of Arts and Sciences)招生办主任拒绝接受采访;学校发言人未回复记者就此事提出的八个问题,她说“按照规定,我们不对申请个案置评”。

Instead, the spokeswoman offered a general statement saying the graduate school “is committed to recruiting and enrolling students from all backgrounds” and “strives to create an inclusive and supportive environment where all students can thrive.”

不过,这名发言人提供了一份泛泛的声明。声明称,文理研究生院“致力于招收有着各种各样背景的学生”,并“竭力创造具有包容性和支持性的环境,以便让所有学生茁壮成长”。

But after the history department accepted her and the American studies program listed her as a top alternate, two American studies professors flagged Jones’ file for the admissions dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In a memo to university administrators, these professors said the admissions dean had told them Jones’ selection would be reviewed by the president and provost, and questioned whether she had minimized her crime “to the point of misrepresentation.”

但在琼斯被历史系录取,被美国研究专业列在候补名单第一顺位之后,两名美国研究教授提请文理研究生院招生办主任审视相关的琼斯文档。这两名教授在一份提交给学校管理人员的备忘录中说,招生办主任曾告诉他们琼斯的录取资格将受到校长和教务长的审核,两人还质疑琼斯是否对自身罪行进行了“堪称误导”的淡化。

“We didn’t have some preconceived idea about crucifying Michelle,” said John Stauffer, one of the two American studies professors. “But frankly, we knew that anyone could just punch her crime into Google, and Fox News would probably say that PC liberal Harvard gave 200 grand of funding to a child murderer, who also happened to be a minority. I mean, c’mon.”

“我们并非先入为主,要把米歇尔钉死在十字架上,”其中一名美国研究教授约翰·斯托夫(John Stauffer)说。“但坦白说,我们知道每个人都可以用Google搜索她的罪行,福克斯新闻(Fox News)或许会说,政治正确的自由主义哈佛为一个恰好是少数族裔的儿童杀手提供了20万美元资金。我说,拜托了。”

Jones got pregnant at 14 after what she called nonconsensual sex with a high-school senior. Her mother responded by beating her in the stomach with a board, according to the prosecutor who later handled her case, and she was placed in a series of group homes and foster families.

14岁那年,琼斯在与一名高三学生发生据她说并非自愿的性行为之后怀孕。后来负责处理她的案子的检察官说,她母亲的反应是用一块板子打她的腹部;接着她便辗转于一系列儿童之家和寄养家庭之间。

In a personal statement accompanying her Harvard application, Jones said she had a psychological breakdown after years of abandonment and domestic violence, and inflicted similar treatment on her own son, Brandon Sims.

琼斯随哈佛大学入学申请材料附了一份个人声明,她说多年间不断遭到遗弃和家暴的经历导致她心理崩溃,进而以类似的方式折磨她自己的儿子布兰登·辛幕斯(Brandon Sims)。

The boy died in 1992 in circumstances that remain unclear; the body was never found.

那个男孩死于1992年,目前尚不清楚他是在什么情况下离世的;他的尸体从未被找到。

Two years later, during a stay at a mental-health crisis center, Jones admitted that she had buried him without notifying the police or Brandon’s father and his family. At her trial, a former friend testified that Jones confessed to having beaten the boy and then leaving him alone for days in their apartment, eventually returning to find him dead in his bedroom.

两年后,在一家心理健康危机处理中心逗留期间,琼斯承认自己在未通知警方或布兰登的父亲及其家人的情况下埋葬了布兰登。琼斯出庭受审时,从前的一个朋友作证说,琼斯向其承认先是打了那个男孩,随后将他独自留在公寓中,过了几天回到家,发现他已经死在他的卧室里。

Jones was sentenced to 50 years in prison but was released after 20 based on her good behavior and educational attainment.

琼斯被判处50年有期徒刑,但由于在狱中表现良好,且学有所成,她服刑20年便被释放。

In her statement to Harvard, Jones wrote of Brandon: “I have made a commitment to myself and him that with the time I have left, I will live a redeemed life, one of service and value to others.”

琼斯在提交给哈佛的声明中提及了布兰登:“我向我自己还有他承诺,我会用余生重新做人,过一种服务于他人、对他人有价值的生活。”

Brandon’s father and grandmother could not be reached for comment.

记者未能联系上布兰登的父亲和祖母并请其置评。

Jones’ many supporters include Heather Ann Thompson, who won the Pulitzer Prize in history this spring and submitted a recommendation letter on her behalf. There is also Diane Marger Moore, the prosecutor who argued that Jones receive the maximum sentence two decades ago and is now writing a book about the case.

琼斯有很多支持者,其中包括于今春斩获普利策历史奖的希瑟·安·汤普森(Heather Ann Thompson),她还为琼斯写了一封推荐信。此外还有在20年前主张予以琼斯最重量刑的检察官戴安·马格尔·摩尔(Diane Marger Moore),此人正在写一本关于该案的书。

“Look, as a mother, I thought it was just an awful crime,” said Marger Moore, now a lawyer at a large firm in Los Angeles. “But what Harvard did is highly inappropriate: I’m the prosecutor, not them. Michelle Jones served her time, and she served a long time, exactly what she deserved. A sentence is a sentence.”

“这么说吧,作为一名母亲,我认为那是一种可怕的罪行,”目前在洛杉矶一家律所当律师的摩尔说。“但哈佛大学的做法非常不妥:我才是检察官,他们不是。米歇尔·琼斯服了刑,而且服了很长时间,她该当如此。判决就是判决。”

Her backers saw her background as an asset, given the growing academic interest in incarceration.

鉴于学术界对监禁问题越来越感兴趣,琼斯的支持者们将她的背景视为一种财富。

“It was a chance for us to do something that we’ve been saying we’re trying to do at Harvard, which is to set up conversations between academics and eyewitnesses,” said Walter Johnson, director of an American history study center at the university.

“对我们来说这是一个机会,有助于开启学界和见证者之间的对话,这正是我们常说的我们在哈佛试着去做的那类事情,”哈佛大学美国史研究中心主任沃克·约翰逊(Walter Johnson)说。

But the American studies professors said in their memo to administrators that “honest and full narration is an essential part of our enterprise,” and questioned whether Jones had met that standard in framing her past. In the personal statement, which was not required, she did not detail her involvement in the crime but wrote that as a teenager she left Brandon at home alone, that he died, and that she has grieved for him deeply and daily since.

但前述两位美国研究教授在提交给管理者的备忘录里表示,“诚实完整的叙述是我们这项事业的基本组成部分”,他们质疑琼斯对自身过往的叙述是否达到了该标准。在那份并非是在校方要求下提交的个人声明中,琼斯没有详细描述自己的犯罪事实,而是写道:她在十几岁的年纪把布兰登单独留在家中,他死了,此后的每一天,她都在深切地哀悼他。

Stauffer emphasized in interviews that he and his departmental colleague, Dan Carpenter, were simply trying to ensure that Harvard did its due diligence about the candidacy.

斯托夫接受采访时强调,他和系里的同事丹·卡彭特(Dan Carpenter)只是试图确保哈佛大学对申请人的资格做了适当的尽职调查。

“We do not want to stand in the way of, advance a case against, or in any way hijack the career of Michelle Jones, who has served her time, who has clearly done amazing things while incarcerated, who shows passion for her craft, and whose full story the two of us can never really know,” they wrote in the memo.

“我们并不想挡米歇尔·琼斯的道,不想指控她,也不想以任何方式劫持她的职业生涯。她已经服过刑,她在服刑期间显然做出了了不起的成绩,她展现了对自己的工作的热情,我们俩绝不可能真正了解她的全部故事,”他们在备忘录中写道。

Yale University also rejected Jones, although it is unclear what role her crime may have played in its decision; officials would not discuss her application.

耶鲁大学(Yale University)也拒绝了琼斯,不过尚不清楚她的罪行在该校做出这一决定的过程中发挥了怎样的作用;其管理人员拒绝谈论她的申请。

But she was courted by the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Michigan; the University of Kansas; and NYU, which assigned graduate students to send Jones welcoming notes on JPay, a prison email app.

但加州大学伯克利分校(University of California, Berkeley)、密歇根大学(University of Michigan)、堪萨斯大学(University of Kansas)和纽约大学都向琼斯伸出了橄榄枝。纽约大学派一些研究生在监狱电邮应用JPay上给她发了欢迎讯息。

She arrived in Manhattan during the back-to-school season of fresh starts, having never used a smartphone. She wore prison-issue glasses and carried boxes full of jailhouse research notes.

从未用过智能手机的她,在标志着全新开始的开学季抵达曼哈顿。她戴着监狱发的眼镜,随身携带的箱子里盛满了在狱中写下的研究笔记。

On the Friday before classes started, in a lounge on the NYU campus, Jones said any presumption that she is not ready for a doctorate underestimates her own moxie and “sells prison short.”

周五上课前,琼斯在纽约大学校园的一个休息室内表示,任何推测她没为读博做好准备的人,都低估了她的勇气,也“小瞧了监狱”。

“People don’t survive 20 years of incarceration with any kind of grace unless they have the discipline to do their reading and writing in the chaos of that place,” Jones said. “Forget Harvard. I’ve already graduated from the toughest school there is.”

“人们不可能在任何程度上体面地熬过20年的牢狱生涯,除非他们在那个嘈杂纷乱的地方能够很有自制力地阅读和写作,”琼斯说。“忘了哈佛吧。我已经从世界上最严苛的学校毕业了。”

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