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Prosecutor helps keep juveniles on right track

By TAN YINGZI and DENG RUI in Chongqing | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-10-23 07:51
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Mei Mei talks with students at Chongqing No 37 Secondary School during a class interval last month. HUANG WEI/XINHUA

Working on the front line in Chongqing for 19 years, prosecutor Mei Mei has been using the law to safeguard fairness and justice in society, and more importantly, applying her selfless love and care to protect minors and prevent juvenile delinquency.

Her work model, the "Sister Sha" mechanism, links public departments, schools and communities when handling juvenile cases, crime prevention and law popularization, and has been acknowledged and widely promoted in the city's procuratorial system.

"Sha is actually the name of one of my earliest group members," said Mei.

With multiple "Sister Sha" juvenile rights protection stations established in Chongqing, the "Sister Sha" community has grown from seven prosecutors in the beginning to 416, and has attracted more than 1,600 social volunteers to serve the rights and interests of juveniles.

Mei has garnered multiple honors, including being named a National Role Model Prosecutor by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the Supreme People's Procuratorate in 2017, and she was named one of the 32 best civil servants in the country by the organization and publicity departments of the Communist Party of China Central Committee in 2020.

She was recently elected as a delegate to the 20th National Congress of the CPC, which opened in Beijing on Oct 16.

Mei was born in Chongqing's Tongliang district in 1981. She enrolled in the law department of Chongqing University in 1999. Shortly after graduation in 2003, she started work at the Dadukou District People's Procuratorate in the city, mostly dealing with cases related to juvenile delinquency.

Juvenile delinquency is now a worldwide issue. Chinese procuratorial authorities have been strengthening the protection and relief work for minors, as well as crack down on crimes against minors, according to the SPP. Last year, some 45,000 juvenile suspects were arrested in the country.

"I try to involve them in any possible conversation including asking about their backgrounds, families, hobbies and even the most influential person or thing in their life," Mei said. Being kind, friendly and cheerful, she communicates well with minors in jail.

In 2004, Mei dealt with a robbery case involving three juveniles.

"I definitely wouldn't have done it if I had known it was a crime!" cried one of the young defendants at the trial.

Mei said the kid's words of remorse made her realize that many young people were ignorant of the law, and had a sense of regret and inferiority caused by being arrested and sentenced. These issues are too complicated for one case to solve. "I felt compelled to do something for the young ones who have gone astray," Mei said.

With a will to improve public awareness of laws and prevent juvenile delinquency, the same year, Mei and her colleagues published a regular column — A Ray of Sunshine — on her procuratorate's official website.

A group of seven prosecutors, spent their breaks writing blog posts including case diaries and short legal stories. The group started to communicate with the juveniles or parents via a hotline and emails under the name of "Sister Sha".

"It's fairly easy to punish a kid, but you have to do a lot more to help the kid get out of the haze," said Mei.

In 2012, a 15-year-old local minor, Xiao Wen, stood up for his friend in a dispute and stabbed another teenager, Xiao Xi (both are pseudonyms). According to the trial, Xiao Wen was sentenced to pay the medical expenses of the victim, who was seriously and permanently wounded.

The case was closed but Mei's work as "Sister Sha" continued. She noticed Xiao Wen, who was from a poor, single-parent family, had undergone depression and had suicidal thoughts.

She raised donations for Xiao Xi, to ensure he could receive timely medical treatment, and provided constant psychological counseling for Xiao Wen, to help him return to school. After graduation, Xiao Wen found a job and started to earn good money.

"Sister Sha" turned out to be a success and has been promoted in other places of the city since 2012.

Over the years, Mei and her colleagues have made public speeches to over 100,000 people in schools and communities. A comic pocket book — Sister Sha's Stories — was edited and printed for the young to read.

The number of juvenile delinquency cases has decreased for seven consecutive years, according to the municipal procuratorate.

Mei said she loves to serve as a hostess, organizing events in her spare time.

"Every flower needs sunshine. I hope to get the 'imperfect' kids out of trouble," said Mei, adding that she is planning to stick at her job for more years to come.

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