A recent report on Guangdong Provincial Women's Prison, which has improved living conditions for its inmates, has become something of a talking point. Some people believe a "luxury" prison would reduce the punishment of prisoners. However, experts believe that it shows a positive development in society.
Though it has been pointed out that there is progress in human civilization in building beautiful prison buildings, quite a lot of people have a different opinion. Some believe it might encourage crime if a prison loses its power and fearfulness. Guangdong Province invested about 175 million yuan to build its "luxury" prison. However, that money could have built 580 Hopeful Primary Schools, or helped 4,860 of the needy to enjoy a subsistence allowance for 10 years.
Professor He Weifang, who teaches in Peking University, believes punishing prisoners is not about depriving them of material things but restricting their freedom. The reason people felt bad during the SARS period, for example, was that their freedom was restricted. Though quarantine patients were served the best of food, they felt sad. Freedom is the biggest pleasure of one's life. However, prisons like Guangdong Provincial Women's Prison are very rare indeed and should be praised, instead of criticized, for they show a greater tendency now not to ignore the problems of the management of prisons and relief institutions.
According to Professor Wang Shirong of Northwest University of Political Science and Law, the "luxury" prison represents the idea that law should focus on people and also that it's a development for society.
(China.org.cn by Wu Nanlan, June 28, 2003)