About 1,300 prison inmates will be allowed temporary release from 300 correctional facilities across the country for family reunions during the Spring Festival holiday, according to the Ministry of Justice.
Prisons in 25 provinces and municipalities will scrutinize candidates and ensure that those qualified can actually reunite with family members, the ministry said.
A man identified as Kan, who is serving four years in Pukou Prison in Jiangsu province, has been allowed to visit his family in Guanyun county of Lianyungang city, also in Jiangsu.
The 43-year-old, who fled a hit-and-run scene that caused one death and one injury in November 2014, said he was thankful and overwhelmed with joy when he saw his family members.
"My wife and I shed tears when we talked about the years that I was absent and she struggled to support the family," he said.
He almost choked with sobs when he visited his mother, who looked much older than she did three years ago. He held his newborn grandson in his arms at the family's newly constructed three-story home.
"They told me about the news when they visited me in the prison, but seeing them with my eyes is a total different experience. I felt really sorry for my family and the victims," said Kan. He asked his son to visit the dead victim's family frequently and said he must try his best to help them.
"I will compensate them for their loss when I'm released," he said. "Many of my cellmates envied my family reunion and said they will behave better to get such a chance."
Kan was among 71 criminals allowed to go home in Jiangsu.
"Allowing inmates to temporarily leave prison to attend family reunions is a legal reward for inmates regulated by China's Prison Law," Jiang Jinbing, director of the Jiangsu Prison Management Bureau, was quoted by the Legal Daily as saying.
Gao Ming, director of Pukou Prison's management department, said that lots of work has been done to guarantee the criminals' family reunions.
"There are supervisory offices to monitor the whole procedure for family reunions, including risk assessment and daily performance reports."
In Shanghai, 10 qualified criminals will be released from Feb 15 to 19, with the Chinese New Year falling on Feb 16 this year.
All 10 of the inmates allowed to visit their families from four prisons in Shanghai this week will wear electronic bracelets that are connected with the prisons' global positioning system. The bracelets will trip alarms if they are removed or damaged.
They also need to register at local police stations and report their whereabouts to prisons every day.
China's prisons allowed criminals to return home for festivals in the 1980s, but the policy was soon abolished for technical and financial reasons, the Beijing News reported.
Some prisons relaunched inmate holiday releases in late 2017, after the Ministry of Justice encouraged prisons to use various methods to help with penal system rehabilitation.
(China Daily 02/13/2018 page4)