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Execution of Penalties

Updated : 2015-06-05

Law enforcement implements the judgment of a criminal by authorities in accordance with legal procedures. Chinese prisons carry out the following penalties:

1. Imprisonment of a convict with a fixed-term to life sentence or who has been condemned to death with a two-year reprieve. This is the beginning of the exercise of penalty, a serious law enforcement activity that must be conducted in strict compliance with legal procedures. Public security personnel who incarcerate criminals that have been given a fixed-term sentence or life sentence or condemned to death with a two-year reprieve, must transfer the criminal to prison within 1-month of receipt of the conviction ruling. In transferring a person to prison, courts must present legal documents, including copies of the prosecution statement from the procuratorate, the court ruling, notice of execution of sentence, and registration form. The prison officials may reject the criminal if they do not receive the documents. If these documents are incomplete or contain errors, the court that issued the finding has to correct them. Any documents that might lead to mistaken imprisonment cannot be accepted.

Criminals that are admitted must go through a physical examination and record of personal effects. A prisoner with a fixed or life sentence who is found, during the physical exam to have a serious illness needing medical treatment outside or a female criminal who is pregnant or breast-feeding a newborn child may have imprisonment suspended temporarily. That does not include criminals condemned to death with a two-year reprieve. The prison should notify the court on the results of the physical exam and the court, in turn, should decide whether the person can be allowed medical treatment on the outside. Any personal effects that have been found to be illegal should be confiscated, while non-essential items should be turned over to the prison officers for safekeeping or returned to relatives of the inmate, with the inmate’s approval. Female inmates should be examined by female police officers. Criminals cannot bring their children with them to prison. Upon admission, family members of the inmate should be notified by prison officials within 5 days of admission.

2. Petitions, accusations and reporting by inmates. During the execution of the sentence, any petition filed by an inmate should be submitted without delay to a procuratorate or court. Prisons should have a complaints box and designate a special representative to oversee it to handle grievances and redress. The procuratorate or court should notify the prison within 6 days of receipt of suggestions submitted by the prison. Inmates have the right to file a charge against prison police and other personnel for illegal acts or report it to officers. Prison authorities should process any materials submitted and resolve any matter within their jurisdiction. If it is not within their jurisdiction, it should be transferred to a procuratorate or court posthaste.

3. Serving a sentence outside the prison. This system allows criminals who meet certain conditions to serve their sentence outside the prison temporarily and can be handled in two ways. First, upon announcement of the ruling, if the convict is seriously ill and warrants medical treatment, or is pregnant or breast-feeding a baby, the court may decide that the convict can serve his or her sentence outside. Second, in the course of serving a term, an inmate may be permitted to serve the remainder of the sentence outside the prison if he or she meets the following conditions: seriously ill and in danger of dying or with a serious chronic illness that medical treatment cannot halt; above the age of 60 and in poor physical condition and unlikely to be a threat to society; or physically handicapped and unable to work. In such cases, prison authorities should make a written proposal and submit it to the prison administration of the province, municipality, or autonomous region.

If the circumstances permitting the temporary serving of a sentence outside the prison no longer apply, the prisoner should be remanded to serve out the sentence. If the decision is reached by a court, the prisoner should be handed over by public security personnel to prison authorities. If the decision is made by the prison authorities, public security involved in the case should notify the prison authorities soon. People who have served their sentence outside the prison should complete the release formalities at the prison of original detention. If a person dies while serving their sentence outside the prison, public security authorities should notify the prison of original detention about the death.

4. Commutation of sentence and parole. Commutation means a reduction in the sentence in accordance with the law. Prisons are responsible for filing an application for commutation with the court for prisoners who meet the necessary requirements. The court should review the application and reach a decision within 1 month of receipt of it. For complicated or unusual cases, the deadline may be extended for another month.

5. Release and placement. Upon completion of the sentence, a prisoner should be released and given a certificate of release. The prison should provide a written evaluation of the prisoner's behavior in prison and hand it and a copy of the ruling to the public security office in charge of the area where the former prisoner resides. The person should apply for permanent residence with the local public security office with a certificate of release and should have the same rights as other citizens.