Over 1 mln convicts serve sentences in communities since 2003

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Around 1.16 million convicts in China have served their sentences in communities instead of prisons since 2003 as part of the country's efforts to prepare criminals for a smooth return to society, Vice Minister of Justice Zhao Dacheng said Tuesday.

Of those convicts, more than 650,000 have finished their community corrections, Zhao said at an online interview at the press center of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which opened on Nov. 8.

He dismissed concerns over such convicts' possible threat to the public, saying only 0.2 percent of them committed crimes again while serving in communities, a rare low level in the world.

China began its program of community corrections in 2003 in Beijing, Shanghai and four other areas, and extended the program to the rest of the country in 2009.

Under such a program, convicts are required to report their behaviors to judicial departments or periodically submit written reports.

The country has also stepped up the reeducation of prisoners, Zhao said, with 1.25 million criminals having received literacy and compulsory education in prisons since 2008.

Since then, more than 1 million prisoners have acquired certificates after going through vocational or technical education, and over 6,000 have obtained diplomas from junior colleges or higher educational institutions, he said.

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