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Beijing jails offer Spring Festival parole
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-04 08:42

Beijing's jails are to allow scores of inmates home for Spring Festival, which falls on February 9.

The Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court will give special parole to over 100 prisoners.

But prison authorities have denied the large-scale release is a misguided holiday gesture.

"This is more about justice than grace," said a court spokesman.

The court's jurisdiction covers nine of Beijing's 18 districts.

"Approval of these paroles is conducted strictly in line with the Criminal Law as well as a directive on the implementation of parole issued by the city's judicial authorities," he added.

"There was no intention to deliberately deal with these cases in batches and create something like a New Year gift," said the official.

The Criminal Law allows inmates who have served more than half of their jail terms, and who show signs of repentance and are no longer considered a threat to society to be paroled.

Parole applications have to be approved by an intermediate or higher court.

Recidivists and those sentenced to more than 10 years for crimes against people such as homicide and kidnapping, cannot be paroled.

"There has been much research that shows the likelihood of the paroled committing further crimes to be very low," said Xu Guojun, a criminal judge from the Runan County in Central China's Henan Province.

Judge Xu said that after serving half of jail term and being released in advance, the paroled in most cases show gratitude and do not reoffend.

Those released on parole used to be monitored by the police. The law requires them to report their activities regularly, and abide by certain restrictions on movement and with whom they associate.

This supervisory methodology was amended to certain extent in July 2003, when China introduced a community correction system for those who have committed minor offence, and for those on parole.

Aside from monitoring their activities and assigning them community work, the community correction institutions provide newly released prisoners with psychological advice and help them find employment, receive education and in aspects of daily life.

This system was first introduced in Beijing, Shanghai and four provinces on a trial basis and later extended to 12 other provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions last year.

The ultimate goal is to establish the system all over the country.

"The purpose of punishment is to remould the criminals into law-abiding citizens," said Xu.

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