People can be reformed. The great majority of criminals can also
be reformed. Turning minuses into pluses and changing criminals
into people who are useful to society are in conformity with the
great Marxist ideal of liberating all of mankind. Consistent with
this understanding, China does not simply punish criminals; instead
it emphasizes reform and change for the better. Therefore, even
in the case of criminals who have committed serious offenses, China
has always adhered to its laws and policies, which call for a minimum
number of executions.
In the actual practice of criminal reform, China pays close attention
to implementing the principles of humanitarianism. Criminals are
not only provided with proper living conditions, but their human
dignity is also respected. Humiliating of prisoners is forbidden.
Chinese law clearly stipulates that criminals are to be provided
with a humane level of material comfort during their prison terms
and that the staff in prisons and reform-through-labour institutions
must handle criminals in a civilized manner.
China strictly protects the due rights of criminals. Chinese law
stipulates the various civil rights not restricted by law to which
a criminal is entitled during a prison term. There are specific
legal provisions concerning the rights a criminal must enjoy during
the entire process from initial detention to release after serving
the sentence. Chinese law forbids any maltreatment of prisoners
by the prison staff and prisoners have the right to file charges
according to the law. The law clearly stipulates criminal sanctions
for any prison staff guilty of dereliction of duty.
In the reform of criminals, China operates on the principle that
education is very important, attaching great importance to physical
labour in addition to legal, moral, cultural and technical education
to encourage criminals to stop looking at time in prison as a forced
prison term and think more in terms of conscientious reform, to
give up the idea of obtaining personal gain through criminal means,
to form the habit of respecting other people and society in general,
and to obtain the work skills needed for later employment so that
they may become law-abiding citizens.
China attaches great importance to helping criminals change by
means of persuasion. Therefore, China brings the efforts of specialized
state organs and society together to reform criminals. Reforming
criminals is mainly the responsibility of state organs in charge
of reform-through-labour programmes and is carried out at prisons
and reform- through-labour institutions. At the same time, under
China's socialist system, reform of criminals is the common concern
of society and receives energetic support from the public. Every
sector and level of society supports and helps coordinate this work
through the entire process of criminal reform, including resettlement
and employment after a criminal has served his term and is released
Due to the implementation of the above-mentioned principles, China
has met with great success in criminal reform.
--- China has successfully reformed war criminals. It did not use
capital punishment on any of the Japanese war criminals, the war
criminals of the puppet Manchuria regime, the Kuomintang war criminals
or on the last emperor of the feudal Qing Dynasty. After their reform,
over one thousand Japanese war criminals received lenient treatment
and were returned to Japan. Most of them have taken an active part
in anti-war activities, supporting peace and promoting Sino-Japanese
friendship. After receiving special pardons and being released,
the war criminals associated with the puppet Manchuria regime and
the Kuomintang war criminals, including the last Qing Emperor, Aisin
Giorro Pu Yi, became law-abiding citizens and did their best to
work for the good of the country and the people.
--- China's rate of recidivism is among the lowest in the world.
For many years, it has been around 6% to 8%. In contrast, the rate
of recidivism in some developed western countries is around 20%
or 30% with some going as high as 50%, 60% and more.
--- About 400,000 criminal cases are brought to trial every year
in China. The country's crime incidence rate among the population
is about 2 per thousand per year, which is among the lowest in the
The rate of recidivism and the crime rate are the main criteria
for judging the effectiveness of a country's efforts to reform criminals.
China's success in the reform of criminals proves that its principles
and policies, as well as its laws and system are correct for handling
the reform of criminals.
China is a developing country and the conditions and environment
for criminal reform in China are still restricted by its level of
economic and social development. With progress in its socialist
modernization drive and constant improvement in its legal system,
the country's efforts to reform criminals will reach new heights