A prisoner in Jinan, capital of east China's Shandong Province, recently received an unexpected 8,350 yuan (US$1,000) in compensation for a physical injury he incurred two years ago, thanks to the legal aid available in his prison.
In an interview with Xinhua, the 31-year-old prisoner said he did not expect to be compensated. "Now I understand even prisoners have equal rights," he said.
Since the end of 1997, legal aid centers in over 20 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions have provided counseling and other legal services to prisoners.
Last year, the legal aid center at Jinan set up a team of lawyers to tour the city's prisons once a week and help prisoners with their civil proceedings.
"Prisoners are entitled to the same rights as any one of us," said Wang Xiangrong, a renowned lawyer in the province who has defended several prisoners in their civil cases, "As some people lose all hope once they are put behind the bars, we should help them rebuild confidence."
During the past year, legal aid centers across Shandong handled 88 cases concerning the civil rights of prisoners, said a source from the provincial legal aid center. Prisons in Jinan alone settled 11 cases involving civil disputes of the prisoners.
(Xinhua News Agency January 27,2002