How the Prison System Works in China

In the study of prison systems worldwide, the Chinese prison system plays a major role not only because it is located in a communist country but also because it is one of the most populous prison systems in the world. Estimated to hold more than million prisoners, the prison system in China requires well laid out management policies as well as adequate financing to sustain it. At the same time, the labor that is generated through the prison system in the form of prisoner rehabilitation through skills development has also played a major role in the country’s economic development. Thus, this article will look into how the prison system works in China based on the information obtained through the China International Information Center.

-Administration of the prisons

The highest authority in the government that administrates all the prisons in the country is the Ministry of Justice and it has its own Bureau of Prison Administration to supervise or facilitate related tasks. However, there are offices of justice in each of the provinces, which have been given the responsibility of managing the prisons falling within their jurisdiction using their own prison administration under the watchful eye of the central government.

The administration and the prisons system in China is governed by the Prison Law of the People’s Republic of China adapted in 1994. Accordingly, the administration of the prisons are done based on two main categories which are the prisons incarcerating inmates who have been given fixed term sentences by the courts and the penitentiaries which holds juvenile delinquents, criminals of minor age…etc.

-Establishment and staffing of the prisons

According to the Prison Law, each prison should have a warden and several deputy wardens along with various administrative departments and staff. These departments include commercial departments, educational departments as well as sanitary departments.

The establishment of prisons can be done through the approval given by the State Council Judicial Administration while they also have the authority to eliminate or relocate prisons based on the historical, economical and natural factors.

The legal status of the managerial staff in a prison is the same as other security personal in the country such as those who are involved with traffic police and public security.

-Financing the prison system

The law ensures that prisons receive adequate funding through the state and the expenses related to prisons should be budgeted in the central governments planning. The funding given by the state is used for expenses related to managing prison police, funding reformation of inmates and their daily life, maintenance of prison facilities…etc.

-The principles governing the prison system

One important aspect of the Prison Law in China is the clause that highlights the need to transform inmates through punishment and combining education with labor. Thus, the prison system in China believes that while punishment focuses on enforcement the reform focuses on transformation of the inmates into law-abiding citizens.

-Execution tasks of the prisons

According to the jurisdiction given to the prisons, they are bound by law to exert committal penalties, handing over petitions, accusations and reporting by the inmates, serving a sentence outside the prison, commutation of sentence and parole, release and placement…etc. While executing these tasks, the prison administration also have to undertake classification of prisoners, maintain standards and strict regulation with regard to the use of warnings, preventive devices and weapons, conducting communications and meetings, maintaining standards of living and hygiene within the prison and exert rewards and punishment according to law.

While the above description of how the prison system works in China gives an overall picture of its functioning, many facets combine to run the prison system in the country. While many improvements can still be made with regard to the practices and the functioning of these prisons, the fundamental policies with regard to prison management seem to be well in place.