CHINA / National

Prison inmates work on their own journals
Updated: 2006-07-28 08:54

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 can have.

"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 pieces.

"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.