China / Society

China tightens prison management after scandal

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-01-30 07:18

BEIJING - China's Ministry of Justice is taking measures to tighten management on prisons after a prisoner in a northeastern Chinese prison used a smartphone to blackmail several women.

At an audio-video conference on Thursday, the ministry ordered prison managerial staff and guards to learn from the incident and take measures to tackle prominent problems to ensure the security and stability of prisons.

The identity, number of visitors and duration of the visit to prisoners should be strictly controlled, said the ministry, stressing that cohabitation of prisoners and their family is prohibited.

All prisons are ordered to upgrade their monitoring and security facilities including walls, gates, reception rooms and security systems.

The whole meeting between the prisoner and visitor should be audio or video recorded and all people entering or exiting the prison should go through security checks, the ministry said.

The ministry will also launch a campaign to ferret out forbidden items in the prison and addiction treatment centers, with special focus on items such as cellphones, cash and drugs.

Prisoners who hide contraband will be deprived of the right to apply for commutation of sentence or parole for three years, while guards who carry forbidden items to prisoners will be fired, the ministry said.

These moves were taken after a scandal in the Nehe Prison in Tsitsihar City, Heilongjiang Province, which exposed loopholes in management that allowed guards to aid the prisoner's fraud racket.

Eyebrows were raised last week when a prisoner, surnamed Wang, was reported to have been chatting and subsequently blackmailing women that lived near the prison via the cellphone app WeChat.

Wang threatened the women with their naked videos and pictures and succeeded in swindling two of the women out of more than 110,000 yuan ($about 18,000), according to local prosecuting authorities.

Media reports said Wang owned five mobile phones and even had sex with one female after manipulating her into visiting him in prison.

Fourteen people working at the prison, including the governor, received penalties so far.

Cellphones are banned in prisons and visiting times are monitored by the prison guards. Wang's case has caused public outcry about lax supervision and corruption in China's prisons.

Hot Topics