Juveniles fall under new prosecution rule
The suspension of public prosecution for juveniles that are suspected of committing minor crimes is being considered by the grass-roots procuratorate in Beijing's Haidian District to offer them opportunities to reform their ways.
During the prosecution suspension period up to six months, suspected young offenders under 18 years of age will receive assistance from a special committee, as well as from community volunteers.
The committee is being established jointly by the Beijing Haidian District People's Procuratorate, the Haidian District Branch of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, the Beijing Haidian District Committee of the Communist Youth League of China and the Beijing Haidian District Women's Federation. It will also offer educational assistance to the mothers of these suspects to acquaint them with legal matters pertaining to their offspring.
Juvenile offenders that commit crimes such as murder, arson and robbery will not be included in the new suspension of prosecution measures.
The message was conveyed over the weekend as the new system was launched in Beijing's Haidian District, home to many of the capital's best-known universities.
"We have advantages in education, so it is practical for us to take a lead in the new measure," said Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau's Haidian District Branch Vice-Director Jin Zhihai.
Suspension of public prosecution in cases involving suspected juvenile offenders has been adopted in Shanghai, Nanjing of East China's Jiangsu Province and North China's Hebei Province, sources said.
If no other infractions are committed during the suspension period by the suspects, those juveniles suspected of committing minor crimes will not be prosecuted by the procuratorate authority, according to Beijing Haidian District People's Procuratorate Prosecutor-General Sun Li.
But if the young offenders are suspected of committing new crimes, they will be prosecuted by the local procuratorate for the new crime as well as the original infraction.
"It is necessary and practical to introduce the prosecution suspension system to our work in dealing with minor crimes," he said.
Sun added that most suspects in cases involving minor crimes are first-time offenders, or those who are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"They often feel remorseful after being caught," Sun said. "Thus, if court judgments leave them with criminal records, it will be even more difficult for them to have normal lives like others."
Sun added that they could possibly be induced in prison to commit more crimes, noting that the prosecution suspension system will help educate juvenile delinquents to mend their ways and become useful to society.
"The principle of reducing crime is to prevent it and reform criminals, instead of merely to punish them," he said.
Statistics show that 80 per cent of the criminals under 18 in China are incarcerated, but that the percentage in Germany is 4 per cent and 1 per cent in Japan.
Haidian has recorded 300 young offenders annually in recent years, and most of the crimes are minor infractions with possible prison terms of less than three years.