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Study Gives Inmates New Lease of Life

Dong is a prisoner in the Beijing No 2 Prison who was jailed for murder when he was a teenager. Realizing the seriousness of his crime, he has worked hard to have a new and normal life just like his peers do.

His dream may soon come true. He has been praised for good conduct in prison for 10 years in succession, and after a decade of study, he finally managed to get a diploma specializing in psychology.

Dong will soon be released from prison to start a new life, according to Zhang Aihua, deputy director of the Beijing No 2 Prison.

Dong is only one example of more than 2,300 prisoners who have completed courses and passed Adults’ Higher Education Self-Educated Examinations since 1995.

To date, 1,266 prisoners in Beijing have taken this year’s exam. More than half of them applied to specialize in law.

“Many prisoners commit crimes because of a lack of knowledge about law,” said a prison warden, who also invigilates in exams. “While serving their sentences, they realize the importance of the law.”

All the prisons in Beijing have set up special exam rooms since 1995. More than 6,800 prisoners have taken exams and 40 have got diplomas, which are recognized as being good as those taken by people in the community.

More than 50 percent of the inmates in the Beijing No 2 Prison passed the exam in the first half of the year.

All the criminals in the prison are men who received suspended death sentences and are serving life or 20-year jail sentences.

Teachers from law schools and colleges have been tutoring them before exams.

“One major purpose of China’s prisons is to transform the criminals into useful people in society,” said Zheng Zhaolin of Beijing Prison Management Bureau.

A prisoner surnamed Xu said: “The prison has arranged for us to tour the city and I could hardly recognize my home town because of all the development. If I do not study hard in prison, I will not be able to find a job when I am out in the future.”

(China Daily 10/23/2000)

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