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Community corrections trials set up around China since 2003

Reporter: Feng Xin 丨 CCTV.com

11-01-2016 15:49 BJT

Community corrections has been used in western countries for decades. It's an alternative penalty to imprisonment. The system focuses on educating and integrating non-violent offenders into society. China has been using community correction trials since 2003. What do they involve? Feng Xin finds out in Beijing.

For 22 months, Li Min -- not his real name - - has to report to his local justice office every two weeks to be fingerprinted.

Li was convicted in 2013 of causing a major accident through negligence, after a restaurant he owned exploded by accident. He was given a 17-month sentence with two years of probation.

Li said, "When my community correction first began, I had to report to here every week. It then became twice a month after the second month. I also need to report by phone every Monday. I have to be punctual. If I need to leave my district, I need to ask permission first. I also need to turn in a written reflection every three months."

Under current Chinese law, four types of offenders might serve community sentences: those on surveillance, probation, parole and temporary sentences outside prison. They also need to carry out at least eight hours of community service each month, such as cleaning bulletin boards or sidewalks.

An officer of Beijing Justice department's community corrections team, Jin Xiaoliu, said, "The biggest difference between community correction and imprisonment is the venue of the penalty. Community correction takes place within the community. It therefore needs a lot of participation by communities. For example, each offender has his or her own correction team, several members of which come from his or her own neighborhood, including family members. ”

"In China, each community or village has a neighborhood committee. They are the lowest administrative bodies. In the current trials of community correction, these grassroot organizations are often recruited to help authorities keep an eye on those serving sentences," said Feng Xin.

In Shen Junying's village, four people are serving community sentences. Shen and her other two colleagues keep track of the offenders' day-to-day behaviours.

Shen said, "We have specialized people making regular home visits to learn their whereabouts and social activities. We particularly need to talk to the family members and gain their help."

Neighborhood watchers need to hand in an evaluation form on the offenders to their local justice office every week. Law enforcement officers also need to visit each offender's home and community at least once per month. China has put nearly 3 million offenders on community correction since 2003.

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