In an office in Beijing Prison, an inmate stands by a printer, holding a pile
of freshly printed newspapers. Around him, six other inmates type away
conscientiously on their computers.
Unshackled, the seven inmates can talk and move freely around the room, but
they are very busy editing the prison paper, Beijing Prison Journal, which is
published inside the jail twice a month.
According to Chinese law, prison inmates have to work as part of their
correction programs. Editing prison papers is just one of the jobs that inmates
"I never thought I would still be able to work as an editor in prison," an
anonymous editor told Xinhua, adding that he felt lucky, even if the equipment
in the prison is not as good as in his former job.
Prison officer An Ximing, who is in charge of education programs in Beijing
Prison, said that only well-educated and well-behaved inmates were chosen for
editing the paper. Most of the editors in Beijing Prison had media experiences
before going to jail.
"We hope every inmate can do what he is good at," he added.
Though they don't have access to the internet and other modern journalistic
tools, the seven editors were doing just fine. More than 100 issues of their
eight-page black and white journal have already been produced.
73 inmates act as correspondents for the journal. The stories they write
include major prison events, inmates' thoughts and feelings, and literary
"We like to run stories that are helpful for educating the convicts," one of
the prison editors said, adding that the journals are available to every inmate
of the prison.
When they read the newspaper, inmates will feel less isolated, and realize
they are still part of society, An said.
Prison publications have existed in China for many years.
The Journal of New Birth, founded in 1987, the first newspaper published by
the Beijing Prison Administration Bureau, now boasts more than 600 inmate
correspondents from all 13 Beijing prisons.
Xu Xiuchang, director of the Beijing Prison Administration Bureau press
center, said each prison has its newspaper, featuring different content and
targeting a different readership, such as the Enlightenment Journal for youth
inmates and the New Voyage Journal for women inmates.