More inmates will be rehabilitated outside of prison with the aim of helping them return to society, an official of China's top justice authority said on Saturday.
About 2 percent of prisoners can be given parole now, "which is obviously low and needs to be increased further", said Zhang Jun, minister of justice. "The remainder of the prison term for an inmate can be regarded as probation, and during that period we can rehabilitate him or her within the community."
Rehabilitation outside prison can effectively help inmates integrate into society and engage in the workforce, "and the inmate will finally contribute to ensuring social safety," Zhang said after the opening session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
An inmate who commits a new crime or violates rules while on probation will be returned to prison, he said.
"In the past, rehabilitating inmates was taken as the responsibility of judicial authorities, but such work to some extent is a social issue that requires help from all walks of life," he said.
Zhang confirmed that prison management and safety has been improved in the past few years, saying that the number of inmates who escape is small compared with the nearly 4,000 a year 10 or 20 years ago.
"Just as boosting rehabilitation in prison, not allowing criminals to run away and enhancing prison officers' working abilities are important, social forces like rehabilitation in communities should also be strengthened," he added.
Ruan Chuansheng, a criminal law professor at the Shanghai Administration Institute, gave a thumbs-up to the minister when he heard that the number of inmates on parole will rise.
"The increase is not only good for inmates, ... but it also can save on prison costs," he said.
Under Chinese Criminal Law, people sentenced to 10 years or more in prison for violent offenses, including homicide, rape and arson, cannot be paroled.
He said community rehabilitation has worked in Shanghai. "Some inmates on parole are monitored through tracking devices, which helps community officials know where they are," he said. He suggested the parole percentage can be increased step by step across the country.
(China Daily 03/04/2018 page3)