Prison inmates exercise at the Baihu prison in
Chaohu, east China's Anhui province March 27, 2007. [Reuters]
A top official on Wednesday, March 28 reminded a prison conference of the oft-forgotten
twin of punishment - rehabilitation.
Minister of Justice Wu Aiying called for more counseling for prisoners.
"Prisons should offer inmates psychological programs to help their
rehabilitation," the minister told the National Prison Work Conference.
Prisons in the country started offering inmates psychological services in
1989, but the practice had not been widely followed till recent years.
show that prisons across the country offered 2.7 million counseling sessions to
inmates last year. All prisoners received a psychological evaluation on first
entering jail, and were also offered individualized consultations based on the
Psychological programs can help prisoners maintain good mental health, and
prevent them from turning to crime again, said Gao Zebo, a senior official from
the ministry's prison administrative bureau.
"Inmates with psychological help often have a better chance at
rehabilitation," he said.
He added that offering prisoners help also helps maintain order, and reduces
quarrels and fights in the prison.
Gou Zhixian, deputy director of
Beijing's Dongcheng District Jail, said inmates receive psychological evaluation
at least once a month. And the guards are also evaluated regularly and taught
Female prisoners learn to dance at a prison in East
China's Zhejiang Province in this March 29, 2005 file photo.
Yang Huaiyin, a guard, said his colleagues - each of whom supervises about 30
inmates - often feel pressure caused by fear that the prisoners might hurt
themselves or fight. "We would be fired if any of them commits suicide," he
China has about 280,000 police officers working in jail, 85 percent of them
college graduates. Each has a month of specialized training every three years,
according to the ministry.
In addition, figures released yesterday show that 95.15 percent of the
country's 1.5 million inmates received vocational training last year, of which
65.82 percent were awarded certificates.
Additionally, more than 180,000 prisoners secured higher education diplomas
Chinese prisons had 3,785 libraries with more than 8
million books, 1,587 multi-media classrooms, 1,257 amateur performance troupes
and 63,695 sports teams at the end of last year.