Pilot prison raises bar for penal system
( 2003-09-14 08:49) (China Daily)
A new prison covering 40
hectares and accommodating 1,000 inmates in Beijing's eastern suburbs is being
used to trial reforms to China's penal system.
Prison, erected in October last year, has 300 inmates already and is the first
prison under the direct control of the Ministry of Justice," said Zhang Jinsang,
prison head and deputy-director of the ministry's Prison Management
There are over 700 prisons in China. Except for Yancheng Prison, all
are administered by provincial or municipal governments.
The new jail, also
called the Central Prison, will house convicted government officials and
foreigners, and conduct research into the protection of inmates' legal rights,
"With good medical facilities and living conditions, the Central
Prison will serve as a trial base for new administrative measures to be
introduced to other prisons," he said.
"Educational schemes, psychotherapy and community
correctional methods will also be introduced to rehabilitate prisoners," he
Zhang made the remarks in China's eastern city of
Nanjing during a recent seminar on protecting the legal rights of prisoners. The
seminar was attended by more than 50 law experts and officials from jails and
judicial administrations across the country.
Authorities will also consider
separating prisons from subsidiary enterprises.
Since the foundation of the
People's Republic of China, prison enterprises, also called
"reform-through-labour camps," have served as correctional centres for
prisoners. The centres make money from the inmates' labour to help improve their
living conditions, said Wang Mingdi, vice-president of the China Penology
"The integration of prisons and enterprises has resulted in
shortcomings in recent years," he said.
Wang said the reforms strengthen the
corrective role of prisons and their protection of inmates' legal
Legal experts at the seminar said China had always taken good care of
Of the 78 articles of the Prison Law, 33 safeguard prisoners'
rights, they said. In 2002, for every 1,000 inmates across the country, there
were 5.08 doctors and 15.68 hospital beds, much higher than the average level
for the rest of the population.
Moreover, hundreds of thousands of criminals
in the past decade have benefited from educational programmes, experts
However, they also pointed out that some prison wardens still need more
respect for inmates' human rights, and arbitrary interpretations of the law have
to be eliminated.
officials proposed existing rewards for good behaviour be enshrined in law,
international best practice be adopted in Chinese jails and all prison wardens
understand prisoners' legal rights.