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Misconduct in prisons doubles
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Prosecutors have charged 291 people over the alleged mismanagement of detention and prison facilities in the first six months of this year.

Sun Qian, deputy procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) said there had been a 114 percent jump in the number of management "violations".

He said some detention and prison staff had little awareness of human rights, and this could lead to the torture or maltreatment of detainees.

"Due to imperfect management and poor conditions of the facilities there are occasions of unnatural deaths of inmates, bringing new challenges to prosecutors' inspection and supervision work," Sun said.

From January to June, prosecutors found 6,430 violations in the management of detention and prison facilities, a year-on-year jump of 114 percent, Sun told a work conference of provincial procuratorate chiefs.

He said 291 people were charged as a result of 243 investigations, but gave no further details about the cases or the 6,430 violations.

In the first four months of this year, the SPP investigated 15 unnatural deaths in custody, of which seven were detainees who had been beaten to death, three committed suicide, two died in accidents and three more were still under investigation.

The country has 1.6 million inmates in prisons and more than 650,000 detainees in the detention centers daily on average. Both figures are setting new records, Sun said.

Some detention facilities do not crack down hard enough against bullies on inmates, Sun continued.

A small number of police even take bribes and abuse power for release on parole or medical parole.

Sun said procuratorates will gradually integrate their information and monitoring network with those of correspondent detention facilities and prisons, "an important measure to improve prosecutors' supervision capability and efficiency".

The Ministry of Public Security will install and repair monitoring equipment in 3,000 plus detention facilities nationwide by Sept 30.

China's detention system has been under close scrutiny since February, when a prisoner in Yunnan province died after being assaulted by another inmate, although police initially claimed he had died in custody while playing a game of hide-and-seek.

Xu Gengrong, 19, died on March 8. The student was in his seventh day of detention in Shaanxi province on suspicion of stoning a schoolmate to death, with an autopsy report showing he died from several injuries.

In the latest case an inmate named Liu Yushan, who died in a prison in Foshan of Guangdong Province, was "beaten to death" by two fellow prisoners, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

(China Daily July 16, 2009)

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