China / Politics

Loophole closed for officials' early release

By An Baijie (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-14 07:35

After four years in prison, former official Wang Jiansheng applied for a commutation of his sentence in March.

However, his application was rejected by the Henan High People's Court because the court has tightened the regulations on commutations.

Wang, the former head of Yuzhou's public security bureau in Henan, was sentenced to 11 and a half years in prison on Dec 15, 2009, for accepting bribes totaling 485,000 yuan ($78,000).

In his application, the former police chief claimed that he performed well in prison, saying that he had met the standards for commutation since he had received a "compliment" and a "merit record" while serving the sentence.

Under the province's rules, prisoners can get a compliment after accumulating 40 points, and a merit record after being complimented twice. Each prisoner can get five basic points per month, and the mark depends on their performances.

But the court rejected Wang's application because he was released on medical parole five times while serving the sentence.

"Wang has been jailed only for a total of 22 months in the past four years," the court said in its verdict. "Even though he had received a compliment and a merit record, the court could not confirm that he regretted his crime."

The commutation requests of two other imprisoned former officials in Henan province were rejected at the same time.

Zhang Liyong, president of Henan High People's Court, said that it used to be easy for imprisoned former officials to get a commutation or probation.

"In the past, many imprisoned officials got compliments and merit records by offering bribes to judicial officials, and their applications of commutation could be easily approved," Zhang said.

Some corrupt officials with 10-year sentences could get released after being imprisoned for only four years with falsified compliments and merit records, he said.

To prevent judicial corruption, the provincial court established China's first court for commutation and probation in 2012, and prisoners who are former officials at and above county levels must be tried before they are approved for commutation or probation.

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