Government favors rehabilitation over incarceration

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, July 12, 2018
Adjust font size:

The number of juvenile offenders detained but released without charge has risen in the past five years because prosecutors are focusing on rehabilitation and education rather than punishment, according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the country's top prosecuting body.

The latest statistics released by the procuratorate show that 39,000 juvenile offenders were prosecuted last year, while 8,800 were released without charge. That resulted in a non-prosecution rate of 18.4 percent, a noticeable rise from the 2012 figure of 6.6 percent.

The rise resulted partly from the fact that prosecutors dealing with young offenders are required to highlight education to avoid adverse affects that can result from conviction and imprisonment, said Shi Weizhong, deputy director of juvenile prosecution at the procuratorate.

"Simply relying on punishment will not solve the problem of juvenile crime. The child's lack of self-control may be corrected with age, but punishment may push the offender in the opposite direction, forfeiting the chance of education and rehabilitation," he said.

The growing reluctance to prosecute young offenders was highlighted in the Criminal Procedure Law, which came into effect in January 2013. It stipulates that if authorities decide not to prosecute, they must spend six to 12 months assessing the child and their future prospects.

During that time, the youngster should receive corrective or educational assistance in a rehabilitation center and report their activities to the prosecutors in charge of their case, the law said.

By the end of last year, about 1,400 rehabilitation centers had been launched by procuratorates at different levels. The centers, which provide corrective assistance and training, are supported by companies, who offer jobs to some young offenders, university researchers, who assess the young person's progress, and nonprofit organizations.

Meanwhile, about 430 juvenile offenders enrolled at universities last year after spending time in rehabilitation centers according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

Ye Huijuan, an associate professor of penology at East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, said noncustodial treatment is a more effective way of helping young offenders to rectify their behavior than isolating them from society, but rehabilitation centers do not accept children younger than 14, the age of criminal responsibility in China.

Shi, from the procuratorate, said the appropriate treatment of underage offenders is a thorny issue as a result of vague guidelines and the limited effect of reform schools.

However, a number of government departments will work together to formulate regulations and judicial procedures for juvenile offenders in the future, he added.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:    
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from