A special assistance center was set up in Beijing Prison recently where
policewomen, who are also qualified counselors, provide help for special
"clients", male prisoners who are serving long sentences, Beijing Youth News
reported on July 5.
The police use computers with
Internet access and chat through web cameras with lifers to help ease their
psychological problems especially with those who have difficulty communicating.
A short message service is also available for them to contact their families.
policewoman counselor chats online with an inmate at a counseling and
education center in Beijing Prison. [ynet.com]
The newly-established center is composed of policewomen. Due to regulations
in prisons, the policewomen are not allowed to communicate with prisoners
face-to-face, according to Lu Yanyan, the director of the center for counseling
and correctional education in the Beijing Bureau of Prison Administration.
"The work of counseling used to be the responsibility of policemen," explains
Lu. "But because they are also officials who enforce correctional education on
the prisoners, those who have psychological problems are reluctant to open their
hearts to share their troubles. That's why policewomen fill this need."
Wearing civilian clothes, not uniforms, the five policewomen appear much
closer to the people they counsel. Though not face-to-face, the prisoners
encounter a friendly and kind smile and feel more relaxed to talk openly about
their feelings and emotions.
A prisoner who was sentenced to life imprisonment seldom talked as he was
abandoned by his family. But when a counselor surnamed Ren started to make
appointments with him, he "became happier than before," as Ren put it.
The special short message service is free for lifers. They can send as many
messages as they want, but every message is checked by the officers. The
quantity of messages sent and received currently is about 1,500 a day.
Another prisoner told the reporter, even though he was concerned about his
child's education and could not solve the problem himself, he felt more
comfortable after he poured out his troubles to the counselor.
As the counseling and correctional education director explains, it is
important to provide counseling for those with long sentences, Lu says crimes
are always the result of psychological problems and the prisoners are also
disturbed by depression and anxiety in confinement.