Leaving shadow of crime behind
Updated: 2011-11-17 08:13
By Huang Yuli (China Daily)
SHENZHEN, Guangdong - When Wang Jinyun saw a message on his website in early 2007, he didn't think replying to it would totally change another person's life.
It was left by a young man who called himself Zhou Sanshi. He said his cousin had been involved in a robbery and asked how long the imprisonment might be.
Normally three to 10 years, Wang told him.
Wang, an ex-con, operates a website called Yangguang-xia (literally, Under the Sun), which persuades fugitives to turn themselves in to police.
The conversation between the two continued online, through text messages, e-mails and later over the phone.
Wang learned that the "cousin" accompanied a friend to see a girl in Shanghai when he was 17. The friend robbed the girl's wallet and mobile phone, then ran away. The "cousin" also ran away because he was afraid.
He fled to Dongguan, Guangdong province, and spent five desperate years there.
Wang realized the "cousin" was Zhou himself, and told him that confessing to the police was the best way.
One year passed and Zhou was still hesitating. He wanted to see an uncle he loved who was seriously ill back in his hometown in Shaanxi province. But he was afraid of getting caught.
Wang then invited Zhou's girlfriend to his office, and talked her into persuading Zhou as well.
On March 21, 2008, Wang accompanied Zhou as he turned himself in at the Shanghai Public Security Bureau.
Zhou is one of the 27 fugitives who have surrendered to police with the help of Wang and his non-governmental Shenzhen Sunlight Youth Development Center over the past eight years.
Ten years ago, Wang, then 23, was given a two-year sentence for selling entry certificates. Having experienced the hardships of reintegrating into society after being released in 2003, he set up the website and the center to help those "who took a wrong step".
"Fugitives can be dangerous," Wang said in his office in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.
"Most of them have no income, no fixed shelter, no friends and are always scared. If no one helps, they are highly likely to commit a crime again."
Wang and his 100-odd volunteers can be contacted through the website's phone number, blog, micro blog, QQ and e-mail.
"When people come to us for help, we listen but never ask details. We let them talk, and tell them the best solution for them after consulting experts - we have many retired legal and psychological experts working as volunteers."
A cupboard in Wang's office is filled with a batch of files, each matching a criminal offender his center has helped. He said a file not only keeps track of a former fugitive, but also his life and spiritual state in prison as well as after being released.
Zhou got a three-year suspended sentence. Wang helped him land a job in Shanghai. Zhou later went back to his hometown and opened a car care center.
Landing a job is exceptionally hard for a former prisoner, as Wang learned by experience. Though a human resource manager before his imprisonment, he was turned down by several employers until a friend offered him a position at his company.
Wang is running two companies of his own, which take in seven former criminals. His center now cooperates with more than 400 companies and units, who are willing to offer ex-criminals a job.
"Rejection is a common story. Some hang up the phone as soon as they hear it's related to someone released from detention," Wang said.
Wang has so far helped 137 people find a job. Many become volunteers at Wang's center in return.
Zhou is one of them. He has persuaded three fugitives to confess their crimes to the police. He has also arranged for eight former criminals to work at his car care center.