ArticlePDF Available

Community Corrections Under the Principal Sources of Sentencing Decisions in China: The Challenges in Sentencing Practice

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

This article provides an overview of community corrections under the principal sources of sentencing decisions in China. It finds some disparities between the initial design and the actual rules on sentencing, which reflect some deep and abiding underlying issues of the penal system. In turn, these restrict further expansion of community corrections.
Content may be subject to copyright.
IJCJ&SD 9(3) 2020 ISSN 2202-8005
© The Author(s) 2020
Community Corrections Under the Principal Sources of Sentencing
Decisions in China: The Challenges in Sentencing Practice
Xue Yang
Nanjing Normal University, China
Abstract
This article provides an overview of community corrections under the principal sources of
sentencing decisions in China. It finds some disparities between the initial design and the actual
rules on sentencing, which reflect some deep and abiding underlying issues of the penal system. In
turn, these restrict further expansion of community corrections.
Keywords
Community corrections; sentencing practice; China’s legal reform; China’s criminal policy.
Please cite this article as:
Yang X (2020) Community corrections under the principal sources of sentencing decisions in China: The
challenges in sentencing practice. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy 9(3): 144-
158. https://doi.org/10.5204/ijcjsd.v9i3.1285
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. As an open
access journal, articles are free to use with proper attribution. ISSN: 2202-8005
Xue Yang: Community Corrections Under the Principal Sources of Sentencing Decisions in China
www.crimejusticejournal.com IJCJ&SD 145
2020 9(3)
Introduction
On 28 December 2019, China’s top legislating body, the Standing Committee of the National People’s
Congress (NPC), adopted a law on community corrections, set to take effect on 1 July 2020. It is China’s
first law to provide for community corrections in detail.
China initiated reform of community corrections in 2003. The project set two goalsthe first regards their
expansion as an alternative to imprisonment, and the second sets to improve their effectiveness by
developing new offender management and corrections programs (Article 1 of the Announcements on the
Development of Pilot Locations for Community Corrections; hereafter ‘Announcements’).
1
In the reform
project’s official rhetoric, Chinese community corrections share similar goals with those in the West. The
programs can be applied to existing community-based punishments (i.e., public surveillance [PS],
suspended sentences, parole, temporarily serving a sentence outside prison and deprivation of political
rights)
2
under the Criminal Law and the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China (Article
2 of the Announcements). Criminals in community corrections programs receive assistance to address
their respective mental and behavioural problems and are reintegrated into society by specialised state
organs, with the help of non-government organisations and volunteers (Article 1 of the Announcements).
The idea of community corrections was introduced into China’s Criminal Law in 2011 and in Criminal
Procedure Law in 2012.
Thus far, the system has instead been managed with several terse joint statements on community
corrections formulated by the Supreme People’s Court (SPC), the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the
Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Justice (MJ). As some officials find hotchpotch of regulations
confusing and lacking in legal weight (The Economist 2019), the Law on Community Corrections was
drafted to remedy this. Article 1 aims specifically at instructing practitioners on how to carry out
community corrections following sentencing decisions. However, it does not elaborate in detail how to
determine eligibility. As such, the SPC sets forth detailed interpretations guiding community corrections
sentencing, which not only reiterate the overt rationale alleged by central authorities, but also manifest
the covert rules within the bureaucracy. Thus, inconsistencies between the official statements and the
detailed regulations can reveal the actual rationale underlying community corrections.
After initiating a pilot program, community corrections became subject to intense debate in China. Many
Chinese articles reviewed the program from both theoretical and empirical perspectives, but only several
English-language journal publications covered China’s community corrections in detail. Jiang et al. (2014)
provided an account of the evolution and challenges of China’s community corrections, while S.D. Li (2014)
reviewed the objectives and scope of implementation, and the potential barriers faced. Jiang et al. (2015)
analysed the data of 764 Chinese citizens and found that most respondents supported community
corrections. Meanwhile, Jiang, Lambert et al. (2016) and Jiang, Jin et al. (2016) evaluated data from a
survey of 225 community corrections officers in a Chinese province. Jiang, Lambert et al. (2016) inferred
that the majority were satisfied with their jobs, while Jiang, Jin et al. (2016) found that officers integrated
punishment and rehabilitation orientations. Elsewhere, E. Li (2015) explored the link between community
corrections in practice and a theoretical model from Western criminal justice systems (notably actuarial
justice), and Li (2016) analysed the gap between the rhetoric and actual operation.
In contrast, Western literature tends to focus on the operation of China’s community corrections,
introducing them in theory through literature reviews and examining them in practice through interviews
with officers and social workers. Many scholars pointed out that the ambivalent legal requirement on
community corrections hampered its effective operation. However, few studies explored the programs in
terms of their adjudication and sentencing.
The legal terms on who is eligible for corrections in the Criminal Law and the Criminal Procedural Law are
equivocal and provide only the scaffolding. It is the judicial interpretations, the Sentencing Guidelines and
the Guiding Cases that flesh out these vague legal terms: they are necessary complements to the legal
provisions. In particular, Article 4 of the Legislation Law provides that the SPC has competency over
Xue Yang: Community Corrections Under the Principal Sources of Sentencing Decisions in China
www.crimejusticejournal.com IJCJ&SD 146
2020 9(3)
interpretations on the specific application of law, and often loosely interprets the Criminal Law to meet
the present issues in a rapidly changing society. Application of the SPC’s judicial interpretations provides
the NPC and its Standing Committee an opportunity to test the waters before amending the Criminal Law.
Ensuing amendments often incorporate the contents of judicial interpretations. Therefore, the SPC has
factual lawmaking power, and its judicial interpretations are usually recognised as quasi-legislation (Ahl
2019).
Ahl (2019) draws attention to the SPC’s active legislative function, which actively distinguishes it from that
of the constitutional courts in liberal constitutional systems. Whereas the SPC’s judicial interpretations
have factual binding effect, the Sentencing Guidelines and Guiding Cases are not law. The use of both items
is a relatively recent innovation in China’s judicial reform. They are expected to alleviate the problems of
interpretive ambiguity and adjudicative consistency, but lacking issuance and usage of Guiding Cases
renders their function in judicial practice obscure (Ahl 2019; Jia 2016).
This article aims to approach a comprehensive understanding of who is eligible for community corrections.
It examines the principal sources for sentencing decisions on community corrections under China’s legal
and judicial systems, including not only the legal requirements on community corrections under the
Criminal Law, but also detailed instructions published by the SPC guiding how to determine who is eligible
for community corrections (i.e., the judicial interpretations, the Sentencing Guidelines and the Guiding
Cases). The article also examines nationwide statistics from the SPC and MJ on community corrections.
The instructions set forth by the former not only reiterate the overt rationale alleged by central authorities,
but also manifest the covert rules within Chinese bureaucracy. Thus, any inconsistencies between the
initial design and the detailed regulations can reveal why the role of community corrections in China has
changed.
The Conditions of Community Corrections Under the Criminal Law
Public Surveillance
Under the Criminal Law, PS, independent fines or independent deprivation of political rights is typically
issued in conjunction with imprisonment of less than three years or criminal detention for certain crimes.
However, all three elements are rarely given in practice. As Table 1 illustrates, only 7,372 offenders were
sentenced to PS in 2017, accounting for 0.59% of all criminal punishments issued that year. The number
of offenders under PS is otherwise decreasing.
Xue Yang: Community Corrections Under the Principal Sources of Sentencing Decisions in China
www.crimejusticejournal.com IJCJ&SD 147
2020 9(3)
Table 1: Number of different punishments in criminal sentences nationwide, 19992017
Offenders issued
independent fines,
independent
deprivation of
political rights of a
fixed term, or
deportation
Offenders
under public
surveillance
Offenders
with
suspended
sentences
Total offenders
issued criminal
punishments
1999
7,515
90,387
608,269
2000
7,822
102,459
646,431
2001
9,481
110,494
751,146
2002
12,121
9,994
117,278
551,213
690,606
2003
14,275
11,508
135,927
569,645
733,358
2004
17,611
12,553
154,429
568,731
753,324
2005
19,575
14,604
184,366
610,693
829,238
2006
32,054
16,166
206,541
629,085
883,846
2007
24,675
15,882
227,959
648,094
916,610
2008
27,447
18,065
249,111
695,369
989,992
2009
23,554
16,833
250,635
688,421
979,443
2010
22,430
16,171
265,230
684,632
988,463
2011
22,125
14,829
309,297
686,215
1,032,466
2012
23,602
12,853
355,302
762,675
1,154,432
2013
24,819
14,641
356,523
742,570
1,138,553
2014
23,951
12,226
368,129
760,225
1,164,531
2015
23,059
11,768
363,517
815,292
1,213,636
2016
23,859
9,463
366,321
799,960
1,199,603
2017
22,997
7,372
347,989
869,465
1,247,823
Source: Data sourced from the Law Yearbooks of China (The Editing Committee of the Law Yearbook of China, 2003: 1320; 2004:
1054; 2005: 1065; 2006: 988; 2007: 1065; 2008: 1106; 2009: 1000; 2010: 919; 2011: 1051; 2012: 1065; 2013: 1210; 2014: 1033;
2015: 1071; 2016: 1121; 2017: 1099; 2018: 1185)
PS was, in part, politically driven during the Mao era and primarily imposed on previous class enemies
during the class struggle, rather than on normal criminals who committed minor offences. ‘The masses’
(qunzhong, 群众) played a vital role in this struggle. Reclaimable class enemies were not only supervised by
the police but also by the masses, including their neighbourhoods and colleagues. After the 1990s, it was
widely accepted, both in academic and practical circles, that the Criminal Law should be depoliticised
(Chen 2010b; Ouyang 2013; Zhang 2014). This is evident in the revised Criminal Law in 1997 and its
subsequent amendments. Compared with the Criminal Law issued in 1979, many politically driven terms
were deleted or modified in subsequent publications. However, when PS was written into legislation, the
political overtones remained. The provisions on surveillance remain among the very few articles in the
shadow of outdated political concepts (Ouyang 2013; Wang 2010). The deprivation of some political rights
for offenders who commit minor offences unrelated to political rights indicates that under PS one is still
deemed a reclaimable enemy. Indeed, all criminals in the Mao era were labelled as ‘enemies’, but this is no
longer the case for minor offenders now. Announcing the termination of one’s PS to colleagues and
neighbours, therefore, signals that the public should still be involved in supervising offenders. Indeed,
mobilisation of mass supervision was a key attribute of Mao’s penal system, but this tradition has since
weakened. Now, the task of surveying criminals demands increased professionalism.
Xue Yang: Community Corrections Under the Principal Sources of Sentencing Decisions in China
www.crimejusticejournal.com IJCJ&SD 148
2020 9(3)
The emphasis on equal pay for equal work in providing PS is another lasting trait from the Maoist penal
system. The most frequently imposed punishment was reform through labour (lao dong gai zao, 劳动改造).
Offenders serving this sentence could receive only a very low salary, with ‘equal pay for equal work’
deemed a privilege that individuals under PS could enjoy. After the 1997 Criminal Law endorsed nulla
poena sine lege (‘no punishment without law’), most scholars and practitioners insisted that there was no
justifiable reason to reduce offenders’ salaries under community-based sanctionseven if, in practice, the
Criminal Law makes no provision against discriminatory payments for those under community
corrections (Zheng 2013). Now, the provisions on PS are inconsistent with some principles of the current
Criminal Law; thus, they become impractical and are rarely applied.
Suspended Sentences
More than 88% of people in community corrections programs in 2015 were convicts serving suspended
sentences (see Table 2). However, the number has been rising since 1999. The obligations under a
suspended sentence and under PS are similar. Compared with PS, a suspended sentence has two additional
features: it does not have political overtones and it has the backup of imprisonment.
Table 2: Number of offenders in community corrections programs, 20072015
3
Offenders
under pubic
surveillance
Offenders with
suspended
sentences
Offenders
under
parole
Offenders
temporarily serving
sentences outside
prison
Total offenders
in community
corrections
programs
2007
3,631
76,185
9,076
12,903
104,840
2008
4,535
112,504
12,699
4,199
149,713
2009
5,922
150,894
21,707
7,157
204,599
2010
8,184
203,739
33,373
9,894
277,897
2011
10,612
296,928
49,306
29,541
400,382
2012
13,003
444,496
64,129
20,030
564,046
2013
15,546
563,195
74,268
22,388
681,001
2014
14,743
629,201
65,316
22,104
732,202
2015
11,865
619,441
47,398
18,886
697,946
Source: Data collected by the Community Corrections Bureau of the MJ (2017)
The Criminal Law stipulates that suspended sentences may be granted where a convict sentenced to
criminal detention or imprisonment of no more than three years meets three conditions. The first factor
considers whether ‘the circumstances of the crime are minor’, but there remains no definite standard for
such a judgement. The vague parameters on the circumstances of individual crimes inevitably confuse
judges.
The second factor is ‘the demonstration of repentance’. For suspended sentences, judges emphasise the
repentance of criminals or other factors that indicate diminished culpability. As Ren (1997: 6) articulated,
social conformity in the Chinese vocabulary is not limited to behavioural conformity with the rule of law
but always moralistically identifies with the officially endorsed beliefs of social standards and behavioural
norms. Criminal justice work in China is perceived as a didactic interpreter of both social conduct and
public morality (Trevaskes et al. 2014). Demonstrating repentance embodies an achievement in the moral
education of criminal justice work. Further, active repentance is lively teaching material for shaping
citizens’ values and understandings of criminal justice.
Xue Yang: Community Corrections Under the Principal Sources of Sentencing Decisions in China
www.crimejusticejournal.com IJCJ&SD 149
2020 9(3)
Nonetheless, there are no clear criteria for judging remorse. Among the statutory mitigating factors,
several factorsincluding desistance from crimes, turning oneself in, providing a confession and assisting
in prosecuting other criminals—may indicate a criminal’s repentance. Otherwise, the Criminal Law
provides no further guidance on how to measure whether and to what degree individuals show remorse.
The abstract rules on repentance have left judges with broad and unstructured discretion. Without any
authoritative interpretation, many practitioners and professionals have attempted to interpret
independently the criteria for demonstrated repentance. A survey on judges’ interpretations in this
context illustrates that, upon deliberating the degree of personal repentance, most consider whether a
criminal pleads guilty, makes a confession, expresses regret about his or her crimes, promises to commit
no further offences, apologises to the victims and their relatives, and provides compensation (Wang, Ma
and Ma 2008; Xuan 2014; Ying 2000).
Overemphasis on repentance and its ambiguous indications have become obstructions to the legal defence.
In the West, one’s defence is viewed as an important procedural protection for individuals against
arbitrary state actions. In China, this may otherwise be confused with lack of repentance. Legal defence in
the communitarian context of traditional China could reflect negatively on an individual, as it signifies
one’s refusal to take responsibility (Lu and Miethe 2002: 268). Today, this tradition still influences the
country’s legal system. As Bracey (1989: 160) points out, Chinese law ‘rewards confession at all points in
the process and regards denial of guilt or insincere confession as resistance to the help that is being
offered’. When a defence lawyer makes a plea for his or her client’s acquittal or mitigation, a court may
judge that as lacking repentance and refuse to grant a suspended sentence. Lu and Miethe (2002: 271)
found that the stronger the defence, the greater the likelihood a punishment is more severe.
The third factor to consider for a suspended sentence is that ‘the criminal has no risk of recidivism’ and
‘the suspended sentence has no major adverse impact on the community where the criminal lives’.
Obviously, in Amendment VIII of the Criminal Law, the concern for protecting a (potential) victim was
more specifically addressed than in previous iterations. It is necessary to assess a criminal’s risk of
recidivism before a court makes a sentencing decision, but it is not possible for judges to predict that
certain criminals pose no risk of reoffending. Although some factors associated with recidivism can be
identified, the ability to predict it is limited. In fact, no authority has ever provided a nationwide system to
assess the recidivism risk and the effect that community-based sanctions have on the public. Some local
bureaus of justice, such as those in Beijing and Zhejiang, have experimented with assessment systems on
recidivism but have never reported the validity and reliability of their measuring instruments. These
systems are far from fully fledged, and none have found general public acceptance (Kong and Huang 2011;
Li, Shao and Yu 2013; Zeng 2012). In general, even though a suspended sentence is the most widely applied
community-based sanction, the criteria for determining suitability under the Criminal Law remain
ambiguous and infeasible.
Parole
Similar to revisions of the provisions for probation, Amendment VIII of the Criminal Law (issued in 2011)
deletes the requirement of ‘posing no threat to society’ and adds two new considerations. The first is that
‘the criminal has no risk of recidivism’ and the second is ‘the impact of parole on the community where the
criminal lives shall be considered when a parole decision is made’. These modifications to Chinese
legislation narrow rather than broaden the scope of cases under which parole can be granted.
Other considerations for parole—including ‘showing repentance’, that ‘the criminal has no risks of
recidivism’ and ‘considering the impact on the community where the criminal lives’—are akin to those for
granting a suspended sentence. The considerations for parole also share similar problems facing
suspended sentences.
That said, there is one major difference between considerations for commutation and considerations for
parole (i.e., an offender’s risk of recidivism). Judges can only assess information about an offender through
recommendations made by prison officials. It is beyond their ability to judge whether offenders pose no
Xue Yang: Community Corrections Under the Principal Sources of Sentencing Decisions in China
www.crimejusticejournal.com IJCJ&SD 150
2020 9(3)
risk of recidivism, but they must take responsibility if individuals reoffend in the future. Therefore, many
judges prefer to issue commutations rather than parole to avoid the risk of liability. The Research Group
on Community Corrections of the MJ (2003) suggests transferring the power of deciding parole from the
courts to a parole board or other committee operated by the respective bureau of justice. These bodies
oversee prisons as well as the community corrections programs within their jurisdiction. If a parole board
operated by the bureau has authority to make parole decisions, it can coordinate the duties of prison
officials and in community corrections programs to comprehensively and continuously evaluate offenders.
The board can consider both the performance of an offender in prison and the effect of parole on the
community, including the respective capacity of prison facilities and community corrections programs.
The Research Group on Community Corrections of the MJ (2003) also recommends broadening the scope
of parole and changing the phrase, ‘posing no threat to society’, to include concrete and feasible
requirements. However, none of these suggestions were adopted in Amendment VIII of the Criminal Law
or in recent judicial interpretations. The number of offenders granted parole continues to decrease,
especially after the 2014 release of two documents on commutation, parole and temporarily serving a
sentence outside of prison. Nationally, the number of parole cases in 2014 was only 37,254, which is
23.81% lower than the number of cases in 2013 (W. Li 2015).
Temporarily Serving a Sentence Outside of Prison
Data on temporarily serving a sentence outside of prison are not publicly transparent. This punishment is
similar to compassionate release or medical parole in some Western countries.
To shorten the imprisonment period, offenders and their relatives always aim to obtain the right to
temporarily serve a sentence outside of prison, as it is formally included in the imprisonment term. Some
offenders who are not eligible for this may attempt to obtain permission through illegal means. Moreover,
the final decision on temporarily serving a sentence outside of prison can be made by a court, a bureau of
prisons (or other administrative bodies
4
)or a public security organ, but their standards may have subtle
differences. For example, the prison or house of detention may not agree with the court-ordered
imprisonment sentence, but they can make recommendations to either the respective bureau of prisons
or the public security organ to approve a temporary sentence elsewhere. This may result in the executive
power meddling in the affairs of the judicial power, and lack of dimensional homogeneity may invite more
opportunities for corruption.
The Conditions of Community Corrections Under Judicial Interpretations, the Sentencing
Guidelines and in Guiding Criminal Judgements
The Range of Crimes Eligible for Community Corrections Under Judicial Interpretation on the
Criminal Policy of Balancing Leniency and Severity
In 2006, balancing leniency and severity became the new mantra under China’s criminal policy. Although
this requires severe punishment for serious crimes, it also requires reformation of the legal system on
juvenile delinquency and petty offences, as well as establishing community corrections (Article 6.6 of the
Resolution on Major Issues Regarding the Building of a Harmonious Socialist Society).
5
According to this
criminal policy, leniency implies that courts throughout the nation should sentence to community
corrections a broader range of criminals who perpetrate minor offences.
Subsequently, the SPC published its judicial interpretation to illustrate the types of cases that were
applicable to lenient sanctions and severe sanctions (respectively) under the criminal policy of balancing
leniency and severity. To carry out ‘leniency’ in the criminal policy—that is, in cases in which a conviction
is recorded but where a criminal offence does not automatically incur a custodial sentencecourts can
give a suspended sentence or sentence an offender to PS, or issue an independent fine (Article 14 of the
Authoritative Opinions on Implementing the Criminal Policy of Balancing Leniency and Severity; hereafter
‘Opinions’).
6
Xue Yang: Community Corrections Under the Principal Sources of Sentencing Decisions in China
www.crimejusticejournal.com IJCJ&SD 151
2020 9(3)
Then, the detailed articles explain that courts can pass a relatively lenient sentence prescribed by the law,
give a suspended sentence or sentence offenders to PS, or issue an independent fine. These apply for cases
in which the harm or the foreseeable intended harm caused by an offender is also insignificant, where the
danger manifested by a defendant in perpetrating his or her crime is slight, where a defendant confesses
in a manner that indicates considerable remorse, and where a defendant has low criminal tendency
(Article 16 of the Opinions). Notably, for cases involving juveniles, first-time offenders or casual offenders,
and where the offence is minor, courts can give a suspended sentence or sentence individuals to PS, or
issue an independent fine (Articles 19 and 20 of the Opinions).
The detailed articles seem to narrow the literal meaning of the corresponding articles on community-
based punishments in the Criminal Law. The conditions of cases for which lenient sentences were eligible
were almost identical to those of suspended sentences, prescribed by the Criminal Law. However, here,
the judicial interpretation provides that cases eligible for a suspended sentence can only be punished in
some instances. In addition, the judicial interpretation restricts the types of cases for which community-
based punishments were eligible. Thus, it did not fulfil what the new criminal policy promised in terms of
community corrections.
The Absence of Community Corrections Under the Sentencing Guidelines
Current Criminal Law is quite indeterminate in sentencing scale and provides little further guidance; thus,
it fails to satisfy sentencing needs (Chen 2010a). Using the same scale in the Criminal Law and the judicial
interpretations results in wide sentencing variations in different jurisdictions. Recently, the SPC in 2010
attempted to consolidate judicial standards by floating a trial balloon in the form of sentencing guidelines.
7
These ensure that criminal cases from the same regions involving similar circumstances are treated in a
consistent manner. The SPC also issued guidelines on 15 types of common crimes that are punishable by
fixed-term imprisonment or criminal detention (see Article 5.1 of the Notice on Implementing the
Standardisation of Sentence).
8
However, the Sentencing Guidelines only focus on criminal detention and fixed-term imprisonment. For
cases in which criminals must serve a suspended sentence, undergo PS, pay an independent fine or receive
independent deprivation of political rights, the local judges also retain full discretion. Nonetheless, the
Guidelines do not clarify how to link fixed-term imprisonment and criminal detention to either items.
Given that the sentencing standards for both decrees are clear but those for suspended sentences, PS,
independent fines and independent deprivation of political rights remain obscure, non-custodial
sentences inevitably suffer from ‘lack of credibility’. To avoid victims questioning their adjudications, many
judges prefer to impose short-term imprisonment for minor offences, which significantly contributes to
the overly liberal use of prison terms (Hao 2011; Zhang 2006).
The Narrow Targets of Community Corrections Under Guiding Criminal Cases
The Guiding Cases are expected to alleviate the problems of interpretive ambiguity and adjudicative
consistency (Ahl 2019; Jia 2016). Since 2010, the SPC has endeavoured to improve the transparency of
court judgements issued at different levels. The Court decided to increase in its bulletin the publication of
selected judgements from every three months in 1985 to every month in 2004. Courts at various levels can
consult the case examples but they do not have a statutory duty to refer to them. To guide the courts on a
case-by-case basis and achieve consistency in national sentencing practices, the SPC began in 2010 to
publish guiding criminal judgements as precedents. Pursuant to Article 7 of the Regulations on Guiding
Judgements, the courts at various levels have a duty to refer to the Guiding Cases for similar judgements.
9
To date, 21 guiding criminal cases have been promulgated, though this is far from sufficientgiven that
1.16 million criminal cases are heard annually.
10
Thus, the small number of Guiding Cases renders their
function in judicial practice obscure (Ahl 2019; Jia 2016).
This article attempts to analyse how these judicial cases clarify possible ambiguity around the rules
determining eligibility for community corrections. In terms of the sentences dealt in the 21 criminal cases,
Xue Yang: Community Corrections Under the Principal Sources of Sentencing Decisions in China
www.crimejusticejournal.com IJCJ&SD 152
2020 9(3)
20 end in a conviction. Among these, the defendants in five cases were issued suspended sentences (Case
No. 13, Case No. 14, Case No. 32, Case No. 87 and Case No. 102) and in seven were sentenced to immediate
fixed-term imprisonment spanning less than three years (Case No. 11, Case No. 27, Case No. 28, Case No.
61, Case No. 103, Case No. 104 and Case No. 106). The remaining cases saw the defendants sentenced to
either imprisonment of more than three years or death. Excluding suspended sentences, non-custodial
sentences were clearly not the focus of the guiding criminal judgements.
Evidently, a suspended sentence may be granted when a person is given criminal detention or
imprisonment of no more than three years. Here, the article compares cases in which offenders were
granted a suspended sentence to those dealt immediate fixed-term imprisonment of less than three years
or criminal detention. As such, the purpose is to analyse how the Guiding Cases interpret the three
considerations for a suspended sentence (i.e., ‘the circumstances are minor’, ‘showing repentance’ and ‘no
risk of recidivism’).
As the current data are too small to conduct meaningful systematic analysis, this paper reviews the reasons
for the judgements, especially their syllogistic application of the rules on deciding whether defendants are
eligible for a suspended sentence. This can shed light on the connotations that all three considerations for
a suspended sentence present in judicial practice.
As found, the interpretations did not provide coherent guidance on ‘the circumstances are minor’ clause.
It is noteworthy that Cases No. 61 and No. 102 conflict one another regarding whether the same mitigating
factor can substantiate a reduced sentence to three years or less and further support consideration of ‘the
circumstances are minor’ clause for a suspended sentence. For Case No. 61, the SPC requires extra
mitigating factor(s) to support this clause. The sentence in the first trial was suspended, considering the
defendant turned himself in, pled guilty, returned illegal acquisitions and had no major adverse effect on
the community where the criminal lived (see Table 5). Further, the procuratorate asserted that the first
trial was inappropriate. They also determined the statuary sentencing range was between five and 10
years’ imprisonment and that the court could reduce the sentence to three years due to the defendant’s
admission of guilt; however, the court had no reason to do so due to the same mitigating factor. After two
rounds of appeal at three procuratorate levels, the SPC changed the suspended three-year imprisonment
term to three years’ immediate imprisonment. However, in Case No. 102, the defendant’s sentence was
commuted from more than five years to three, and suspended due to the same discretionary mitigating
factor (i.e., admission of guilt). Moreover, crimes in which the statutory sentencing range is three years or
less are widely acknowledged as minor offences in China. Table 3 shows that for cases in which the
statutory sentencing range is three years or less and the defendant has statutory or discretionary
mitigating factors, the sentence can still be immediate (see Cases No. 28 and No. 104). These judgements
corroborate that the courts need to find extra extenuating circumstance(s) to justify that ‘the
circumstances are minor’ and suspend the sentence when the actual sentence can be three years or less.
Evident in Table 5, ‘no actual loss or devastation’ is a common extenuating circumstance to support that
‘the circumstances are minor’. As mentioned, despite that defence strategies are factually determined,
Chinese defence lawyers usually make pleas based on extenuating circumstances related to repentance for
his or her client’s acquittal or mitigation. Table 5 also shows that in both immediate and suspended
sentence cases, judgements are inclined to recognise extenuating circumstances related to repentance,
including turning oneself in, confessing, pleading guilty and/or demonstrating repentance.
Xue Yang: Community Corrections Under the Principal Sources of Sentencing Decisions in China
www.crimejusticejournal.com IJCJ&SD 153
2020 9(3)
Table 3: Original sentence and mitigating factors for individuals sentenced to criminal detention or
imprisonment of no more than three years under the Guiding Cases system
Immediate
detention/imprisonment
Suspended sentence
Original sentence three years with statutory
mitigating factor(s)
Original sentence three years with a
discretionary mitigating factor
Case No. 104
Case No. 32
Original sentence three years with
discretionary mitigating factors
Original sentence three years without
mitigating factor(s)
Case No. 27, No. 28
Original sentence three years with a statutory
mitigating factor
Case No. 11
Case No. 14, No. 87
Original sentence > three years with statutory
mitigating factor(s)
Original sentence > three years with a
discretionary mitigating factor
Case No. 61, No. 103
Case No. 102
Original sentence > three years with
discretionary mitigating factor
Original sentence three years with a
discretionary mitigating factor
Case No. 106
Original sentence three years with
discretionary mitigating factors
Original sentence three years without
mitigating factor(s)
Case No. 13
Table 4: Statutory and discretionary mitigating factors for individuals sentenced to criminal detention or
imprisonment of no more than three years under the Guiding Cases system
Statutory mitigating factor
Immediate detention/imprisonment
Suspended sentence
Juvenile delinquency
Case No. 14
Accessary
Case No. 11, No. 28
Case No. 87
Discretionary mitigating factor
Immediate detention/imprisonment
Suspended sentence
Turn himself/herself in
Case No. 61, No. 103, No. 106
Case No. 102
Confession
Case No. 104
Case No. 32
Table 5: Extenuating circumstances for individuals sentenced to criminal detention or imprisonment of no
more than three years under the Guiding Cases system
Immediate
detention/imprisonment
Suspended sentence
No actual loss or devastation
Case No. 13, No. 32, No. 102
Return illegal acquisitions
Case No. 61, No. 103, No. 106
Case No. 102
Turn himself/herself in
Case No. 61, No. 103, No. 106
Case No. 102
Confession
Case No. 104
Case No. 32
Plead guilty
Case No. 28, No. 61, No. 104, No. 106
Case No. 14, No. 32
Demonstrate repentance
Case No. 103, No. 104
Case No. 13, No. 14, No. 32
First-time offenders
Case No. 14, No. 102
Juvenile delinquency
Case No. 14
Accessary
Case No. 11, No. 28
Case No. 87
Xue Yang: Community Corrections Under the Principal Sources of Sentencing Decisions in China
www.crimejusticejournal.com IJCJ&SD 154
2020 9(3)
Importantly, none of the judgements mentioned whether the accused had ‘no risk of recidivism’, but
instead provided evidence for their low risk of reoffending, especially for first-time offenders (see Table
5). As there is no assessment system on which to measure the risk of recidivism, courts must
independently determine individuals’ likelihood to commit another offence. Thus, courts are more inclined
to issue a higher number of suspended sentences for certain types of crimes (notably criminally negligent
crimes and certain types of property crimes) in which the offenders are obviously less likely to reoffend.
For the latter cases, in which offenders obtain illegal gains by virtue of their posts in agencies or through
sheer disregard for commercial integrity, offenders will have few opportunities to reoffend because they
will lose their job or damage their commercial reputations by accruing a criminal record. There remain
little data on the ratio of suspended sentences to immediate imprisonment in relation to different types of
crimes. However, one empirical study conducted by a provincial procuratorate showed that from 1998 to
2000, for those issued a suspended sentence, 40.72% committed property crimes and 23.76% endangered
public security (Ying 2000).
The Role of Community Corrections Under China’s Penal System
The limited scope of community corrections largely reflects the distinct definitions of crime and criminal
punishment in China, leaving little room for community corrections. After several rounds of legal reform,
traditional understanding of the law in China is gradually changing but also experiencing some inertia,
thus, shaping the role of community corrections.
The Limited Scope of Criminal Punishments
The concept of crime in Mao’s China was founded on Karl Marx’s theories on class conflict and struggle.
Based on Marx and Engels’s (1939) belief that crime was the struggle of isolated individuals against the
predominant relations between state and power, Mao (1937, 1949, 1957) regarded criminals as enemies
of socialist China. As such, criminality was considered an extremely small subset of socially disruptive
conduct. Pragmatically, among criminal punishments, reform through labour was widely imposed on the
accused, with community-based punishments rarely used. Most socially disruptive conduct should not be
treated as crimes but as violations of the public order.
Under Mao’s (1937, 1949, 1957) interpretation, the reach of crime was narrow but its boundaries were
fluid. Reform through labour (lao dong gai zao, 劳动改造)re-education through labour (RTL) (lao dong jiao
yang, 劳动教养) as well as administrative sanctions were designed to tackle socially disruptive conduct at
varying severity: that is, reform through labour was imposed on criminals, while RTL and other
administrative sanctions were granted to those who committed socially disruptive conduct.
11
Despite their
differences in theory, they were in practice represented by the extent to which they restricted individual
liberty (Biddulph 2015; Liu 2001; Yu 2009).
The fluid concept of crime had the inherent potential to induce human rights violations. Their lessons led
to China’s gradual movement after 1978 towards a ‘rule by law’ in terms of criminal punishment. Of
particular distinction is the range of conduct that has fallen under the scope of such sentencing. If or when
a socially disruptive conduct becomes detrimental to society and/or reaches a high level of seriousness, it
is constituted as a crime. The ‘seriousness’ depends on ‘the circumstances of the crime’ and ‘the amount of
illegal acquisitions’, but China’s Criminal Law does not clarify the standard for such a judgement. The SPC’s
judicial interpretations provide some guidance, yet, according to Lewis (2014), do not fully alleviate the
concerns raised by the vague terms outlined in national legislation.
The initial legal reform creates a considerable number of grey areas in which the RTL could survive. Deng
(1993) stressed that preserving the social order should be a key preoccupation of the CCP. It was believed
that the penal system’s grey areas could strengthen the state’s capability to flexibly tackle any conduct that
disturbs society. However, such handling resulted in the expansion of policing power. For example, the
Law on Public Security Administration of Punishments conferred great authority on police to decide
administrative punishments, despite actually wielding much wider power than the authorisation of law in
Xue Yang: Community Corrections Under the Principal Sources of Sentencing Decisions in China
www.crimejusticejournal.com IJCJ&SD 155
2020 9(3)
the name of RTL. After 1995, The China Law Yearbook (1999) ceased reporting data on RTL. Elsewhere,
one Bureau of the RTL (1999) report revealed about 310,000 persons under the RTL system and about
500,000 others were sentenced in 1999 to imprisonment. Meanwhile, The China Law Yearbook (1999)
shows that only 7,515 people were sentenced to PS, while 90,387 received suspended sentences that same
year.
The broad application of RTL meant that minor criminal penalties were rarely enforced. Many cases that
resembled criminal cases were instead diverted to RTL, which could be stricter than some criminal
punishments, but with fewer legal safeguards. They created more social disruption than they resolved and
flagrantly violated the intentions behind separating criminal punishments and non-criminal punishments.
In the 2000s, China continued to stress the imperative of preserving social order. Many observers both in
and outside the country have advocated for consolidating long-term social stability by building a robust
legal system that respects and protects individual rights (Biddulph 2015; Trevaskes et al. 2014; Yu 2009).
The CCP is gradually recognising the value of one’s voice, as reflected (on paper at least) in its newest
strategy. The decision of the Third Plenary Session of the Eighteenth CCP Central Committee proposes the
abolition of RTL and the promotion of community corrections in Chapter 9, ‘Moving the Construction of
the Rule of Law’.
12
The new strategy points the way forward to penal reform, and punishments and
measures without firm legal basis are expected to gradually cease. Therefore, the role of community
corrections in China’s penal system is distinctive. Although they are initiated as alternatives to
imprisonment in most jurisdictions, their development is preconditioned by the abolition of RTL (Yang
2018).
Since the CCP’s reform agenda juxtaposed the end of RTL to favour community corrections, there were
concerns that one might replace the other (Liu 2015; Williams 2014). However, the MJ announced that this
was not the case. Jiang Aidong, director of the Community Corrections Bureau of the MJ, claimed that
community corrections and RTL were two distinctive systems of dissimilar nature, whereby the former
would only be applied to adjudicated criminals rather than to administrative wrongdoers (Cui and Yang
2014). Obviously, despite promoting corrections orders, the MJ is careful about the expansion of
adjudicated criminals. Correspondingly, the legislative and judicial bodies do so with understandable
caution.
High Expectations for Community Corrections in Reducing Reoffending
Expectations that community corrections successfully reduce reoffending restricts further expansion of
such sentences. Mao’s interpretation of crime and punishment embodied an unrelenting faith in the
malleability of petty offenders. This creed remains a constant and contributes to China’s preoccupation
with achieving no recidivism. According to Bracey (1989: 159):
no giving up on anyoneregardless of offense or recordis part of the correctional
professional’s code in China. Even the recidivism figures—low by the standards of most
countriesare discussed as failures of the correctional system, not as instances of
individual intractability on the part of certain offenders.
In 2008, the Political and Judiciary Commission under the Central Committee of the CCP made reducing
the recidivism rate a primary standard for measuring China’s correctional system (Wu, Xu and Ren 2013).
Since then, all bureaus of justice developed their own methods to cater to this requirement. In the pilot
community corrections programs, the Beijing Bureau of Justice pursued the goal of ‘no offender convicts a
subsequent crime and no offender jeopardizes the social order’ (Zhang 2013: 82). When community
corrections programs eventually spread nationwide, local bureaus of justice strove to demonstrate an
extremely low recidivism rate. The published data show that the rate of reoffending under community
corrections was extremely low, at 0.22% in 2011 and under 0.2% in 2013 (Xin 2014). One bureau of justice
even reported that recidivism of criminals serving corrections was just 0.015% locally (Wang and Li 2014).
However, the MJ never explained how the statistics were collected, leading many scholars to question the
reliability of official Chinese data on crime (Yu and Zhang 1999; Zhang et al. 2013). Under China’s regime
Xue Yang: Community Corrections Under the Principal Sources of Sentencing Decisions in China
www.crimejusticejournal.com IJCJ&SD 156
2020 9(3)
of multi-agency cooperation, the legislative and judicial bodies inevitably follow a strategy of limiting
offenders sentenced to community corrections to those who commit very petty offences. The risk of
reoffending and its consequent effect on persons in these categories are low.
Concluding Remarks
Since the Research Group on Community Corrections of the MJ decided to broaden the scope for offenders
eligible for community corrections, Chinese courts have handed down more community corrections orders
than ever before. However, further expanding these sentences remains a long-term task. The conditions
for community corrections required by the Criminal Law are either vague or unfeasible. Indeed, judicial
interpretations of China’s new criminal policy further narrow the literal meaning of articles concerning
the types of crimes eligible for corrections under the Criminal Law. In addition, the Sentencing Guidelines
exclude community corrections orders from the extent of their practical application, and the guiding
criminal cases strictly limit community corrections target groups. There are also disparities between the
political rhetoric and the actual scope of criminals who deserve these sentencing orders.
Evidently, community corrections have inflamed conflict between the legal reform of and the general
mindsets around crime and criminal punishment in Chinaand this continues to shape their role in
sentencing practices. In practice, these corrections reflect a deep and abiding issue underlying the penal
systemthat precaution around expanding criminal punishments and preoccupation with an extremely
low recidivism rate restrict the scope of non-custodial punishments.
Correspondence: Xue Yang, Lecturer, Institute for Chinese Legal Modernization Studies and Law School of
Nanjing Normal University, Building Xingmin, Wenyuan Road, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, People's Republic
of China 210023. Email: yangxuecupl@yeah.net
1
The Announcements were issued on 10 July 2003 by the Supreme People’s Court (SPC), the Supreme People’s Procuratorate,
the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of Justice.
2
Under Amendment VIII of the Criminal Law and the revised Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China,
deprivation of political rights is excluded from community corrections programs.
3
The total number of offenders in community corrections programs includes offenders under public surveillance, suspended
sentences, parole, as well as deprivation of political rights. Since Amendment VIII of the Criminal Law (issued in 2011) and the
revised Criminal Procedure Law (issued in 2012) exclude deprivation of political rights from community corrections
programs, this table omits the number of offenders under deprivation of political rights.
4
Normally, a prison is supervised by local bureau of prisons of different levels, contingent on its security level. Several prisons
are directly regulated by the Ministry of Justice or the Ministry of Public Security. These authorities can decide a temporarily
serving a sentence outside of prison according to a prison’s recommendation.
5
Issued by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on 11 October 2006.
6
Issued by the SPC on 8 February 2010.
7
The formal Sentencing Guidelines was not handed down until 2014, but they are similar to the trial version.
8
Issued by the SPC on 23 December 2013.
9
Issued by the SPC on 26 November 2010.
10
Based on data from the Annual Report of the People Courts in 2014 (issued by the SPC on 18 March 2015).
11
See the Regulation on Public Security Administration of Punishments (Zhi an guan li chu fa tiao li), issued by the Standing
Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) on 22 August 1957, and the Decision on Re-education through Labour
(Guan yu lao dong jiao yang wen ti de jue ding), approved by the Standing Committee of the NPC and issued by the SPC on 3
August 1957.
12
See Article 34 of the Resolution Concerning Some Major Issues in Comprehensively Deepening Reform (Guan yu quan mian
shen hua gai ge ruo gan zhong da wen ti de jue ding), issued by the Central Committee of the CCP on 15 November 2013.
Xue Yang: Community Corrections Under the Principal Sources of Sentencing Decisions in China
www.crimejusticejournal.com IJCJ&SD 157
2020 9(3)
References
Ahl B (2019) Judicialization in authoritarian regimes: The expansion of powers of the Chinese Supreme People’s
Court. International Journal of Constitutional Law 17(1): 252277. https://doi.org/10.1093/icon/moz003
Biddulph S (2015) The Stability Imperative: Human Rights and Law in China. Vancouver: UBC Press.
Bracey DH (1989) Corrections in the People’s Republic of China. In Troyer RJ, Clark JP and Rojek DG (eds) Social
Control in the People’s Republic of China: 159168. New York: Praeger.
Chen X (2010a) The Chinese Sentencing Guideline: A primary analysis. Federal Sentencing Reporter 22(4): 213216.
https://doi.org/10.1525/fsr.2010.22.4.213
Chen X (2010b) Xing fa xue: xiang si er sheng [The history of Chinese criminal law research]. Science of Law 1: 18
29.
Community Corrections Bureau of the Ministry of Justice (2017) Quanguo shequ jiaozheng fazhan qingkuang yu
shuju tongji. Beijing: Law Press.
Cui Q and Yang W (2014) Exclusive interview for Jiang Aidong, the director of Community Correction
Administration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice. Chinese Government Network, 5 January.
http://www.gov.cn/jrzg/2014-01/05/content_2560187.htm
Deng X (1993) A speech by Deng Xiaoping on 26 February 1989. In Deng Xiaoping Wen Xuan. Beijing: Renmin Press.
Hao C (2011) Lun wo go xing fa zhi xing zhi du de gai ge yu wan shan [On reform and improvement of the penalty
execution system in China]. Law Science Magazine 1(10): 2529.
Jia M (2016) Chinese common law? Guiding cases and judicial reform. Harvard Law Review 129(8): 22132243.
Jiang S, Jin X, Xiang D, Goodlin-Fahncke W, Yang S, Xu N and Zhang D (2016) Punitive and rehabilitative orientations
toward offenders among community correctional officers in China. Prison Journal 96(6): 771792.
https://doi.org/10.1177/0032885516671867
Jiang S, Lambert EG, Zhang D, Jin X, Shi M and Xiang D (2016) Effects of work environment variables on job
satisfaction among community correctional staff in China. Criminal Justice and Behavior 43(10): 14501471.
https://doi.org/10.1177/0093854816633493
Jiang S, Xiang D, Chen Q, Goodlin-Fahncke W, Huang C, Yang S, Zhang D and Zhao A (2015) Public support of
community corrections in China. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 59(7):
772789. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306624X13518381
Jiang S, Xiang D, Chen Q, Huang C, Yang S, Zhang D and Zhao A (2014) Community corrections in China:
Development and challenges. Prison Journal 94(1): 7596. https://doi.org/10.1177/0032885513512091
Kong Y and Huang X (2011) Xing shi ren yuan zai fan ping gu feng xian liang biao yan [The study on RRAI]. Criminal
Science 10: 91106.
Lewis MK (2014) Legal systems in China. In Cao L, Sun I and Hebenton B (eds) The Routledge Handbook of Chinese
Criminology: 5163. Oxford: Routledge.
Li E (2015) China’s community corrections: An actuarial model of punishment. Crime, Law and Social Change 64(1):
122. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10611-015-9574-6
Li E (2016) The rhetoric and practice of community corrections in China. Asian Journal of Criminology 12(2): 143
162. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11417-016-9237-2
Li SD (2014) Toward a cost-effective correctional system: New developments in community-based corrections in
China. Victims and Offenders 9(1): 120125. https://doi.org/10.1080/15564886.2013.860936
Li T, Shao M and Yu C (2013) Dui ni shi yong huan xing de zui fan kai zhan she hui ying xiang diao cha ping gu gong
zuo de zai ren shi-cong dui suo ju zhu shi qu mei you zhong da bu liang ying xiang de jiao du [On the assessment
of the offenders who may be subject to community correctionsfrom the perspective of the effect on their
community]. Justice Of China 8: 7678.
Li W (2015) Gui fan jian jia shi: Ju jue an xiang du zhu lou dong [Strictly regulating commutation, parole and
temporarily serving sentence outside prison and preventing corruptions]. The Court Newspaper, March 11.
Liu R (2001) Lao dong jiao yang zhi du ji qi gai ge [The RTL system and its reform]. Administrative Law Research 4:
1321.
Liu R (2015) Hou lao jiao shi dai de fa zhi zai chu fa [Several issues in promoting rule of law after the abolition of
RTL]. Journal of National Prosecutors College 23(2): 146176.
Lu H and Miethe TD (2002) Legal representation and criminal processing in China. British Journal of Criminology
42(2): 267280. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjc/42.2.267
Mao Z (1937) On contradiction. In Selected Works: 343344. Vol. 1. Shanghai: Quan qiu shu dian.
Mao Z (1949) On the people’s democratic dictatorship. In Selected Works: 411423. Vol. 4. New York: International
Publishers.
Mao Z (1957) Guan yu zheng que chu li ren min nei bu mao dun de wen ti [On the proper handling of contradictions
among the people]. Chinese Marxist Library, 27 February.
https://www.marxists.org/chinese/maozedong/marxist.org-chinese-mao-19570227.htm
Xue Yang: Community Corrections Under the Principal Sources of Sentencing Decisions in China
www.crimejusticejournal.com IJCJ&SD 158
2020 9(3)
Marx K and Engels F (1939) The German Ideology. Moscow: Marx-Engels Institute.
Ouyang B (2013) Zhong guo xing fa xue de qu zheng zhi hua [The depoliticisation of Chinese criminal law]. Chinese
Journal of Law 1: 5762.
Ren X (1997) Tradition of the Law and Law of the Tradition: Law, State, and Social Control in China. Westport:
Greenwood Press.
The Economist (2019) A bigger cage: Justice in China is harsh, but courts are sending some convicts home. The
Economist, 31 October. https://www.economist.com/china/2019/10/31/justice-in-china-is-notoriously-harsh-
but-reforms-are-afoot
The Editing Committee of the Law Yearbook of China (2003-2018) The Law Yearbook of China. Beijing: Law Press.
The Research Group on Community Corrections of the Ministry of Justice (2003) Gai ge he wan shan wo guo she qu
jiao zheng zhi du zhi yan jiu [Research on reform and perfect community correction in China]. Judicature Today
5: 45.
Trevaskes S, Nesossi E, Sapio F and Biddulph S (2014) The Politics of Law and Stability in China. Cheltenham:
Edward Elgar.
Wang L, Ma R and Ma C (2008) Lun huan xing shi yong zhong de hui zui biao xian. Beijing Great Wall Network.
http://www.bjcc.gov.cn/bjoweb/minfo/view.jsp?DMKID=240&XXBH=18591
Wang X and Li Q (2014) Zhi wu fan zui liang xing qing huan hua de shi zheng fen xi. [The empirical study on the
leniency sentences of the duty crimes]. Criminal Science(4): 120-126.
Wang Y (2010) Dian ji jie duan de chuan tong fan zui gou cheng yan jiu. Modern Law Sciences 142: 6270.
Williams R (2014) ‘Community corrections’ and the road ahead for re-education through labor. China File, 20
December. https://www.chinafile.com/community-corrections-and-road-ahead-re-education-through-labor
Wu W, Xu R and Ren Y (2013) She qu jiao zheng neng fou you xiao yu fang yu jian shao chong xin fan zui?yi dong
bu H shi 2007-2011 nian shu ju wei dui xiang de ge an fen xi. [Can community corrections reduce recidivism
rate?A case study based on H city in the East from 2007 to 2011]. Criminal Science (10): 83-89.
Xin W (2014) Si fa bu: she qu jiao zheng shi dian xiao guo hao, zai fan lv kong zhi zai 0.2% yi xia. [The Ministry of
Justice: Community corrections is effective and the recidivism rate is below 0.2%].
http://news.china.com.cn/2014-11/05/content_33973119.htm
Xuan G (2014) Zhu ti ren tong: Lun wo guo huan xing zhi du de you xiao xing chong gou [The subject identity: On
the reconstruction of the effectiveness of probation in China]. Journal of Gansu Institute of Political Science and
Law 1: 112121.
Yang X (2018) Community corrections programs in China: New forms of informal punishments? Asian-Pacific Law
and Policy Journal 19(1): 49109.
Ying J (2000) Huan xing shi jian de diao cha yu si kao [The examination and deliberation of probation in practice].
Chinese Criminal Science 47(5): 2430.
Yu J (2009) Dang qian ya li wei wen de kun jing yu chu lu-zai lun zhong guo she hui de gang xing wen ding [On the
contemporary problems and solutions of the preservation of social order]. Exploration and Free Views 9: 36.
Yu O and Zhang L (1999) The under-recording of crime by police in China: A case study. Policing: An International
Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 22(3), 252-264.
Zeng Y (2012) Lun zai fan zui feng xian de shen cha pan duan biao zhun [On the standards of judging the risk of
recidivism]. Tsinghua Law Journal 6(1): 6477.
Zhang J (2013) Beijing she qu jiao zheng mo shi te se yu wen ti dian fen xi [Assessment on the characteristics and
problems of community correction in Beijing]. Journal of People’s Public Security University of China (Social
Sciences Edition) 163(3): 816.
Zhang W (2014) Si fa gai ge zhi si fa de qu zheng zhi hua [The judicial de-policisation in judicial reform]. Judicial
Reform Review 1: 14.
Zhang Z (2006) Xing fa gai ge de qie ru dian [The starting point of criminal law reform]. Jurist 1: 2124.
Zheng Z (2013) Fu xing qi gong zuo ye neng tong gong tong chou, ping deng xing dai rang shi zu shao nian zhao hui
le zi xin [A juvenile delinquent’s experience of ‘equal pay for equal work’ during the sentencing term]. Modern
Golden Paper.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
Over the last decade, community corrections in China has operated as an intermediate sanction in response to a growing prison population. Official policy describes this punishment as an alternative to prison, focusing on risk assessment, correctional treatment, and cognitive-behavioral therapies that have been adopted in a number of Western countries. Based on interviews with community corrections officials in Shanghai, this article examines the rhetorical and practical characteristics of this new punishment and, more specifically, considers the consistencies and discrepancies between official policy and its practical implementation. It argues that, despite official policy, community corrections in China is underpinned by intensive correctional supervision that is premised on control, surveillance, and education.
Article
Full-text available
This article examines the emergence and configuration of community corrections in China. It argues that the adoption of this new sanction is a result of China’s recent rhetorical shift in penality from harshness and punishment towards leniency and rehabilitation. Nevertheless, based on a study of community corrections in Shanghai, the practice of this sanction manifests strong evidence of actuarial justice in its form and function. The findings from this study show that community corrections are used in practice as a managerial tool to identify, classify and regulate offenders to control dangerousness they may present, and to facilitate the implementation of correctional programs. This actuarial model of practice is represented by the risk-driven, differentiated approaches in the exercise of community corrections and the cost-saving aim of handling offenders in the neighbourhood.
Article
Over the past two decades courts in China have undergone tremendous changes as they developed into more professional and efficient institutions for solving legal disputes. Whereas the literature has described the empowerment of Chinese courts as “intrinsically local,” we turn to the national level and explore how the development of the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) relates to the global phenomenon of a “judicialization of authoritarian politics.” Drawing on legal documents and secondary literature, the study argues that the SPC has extended its powers gradually and in a non-confrontational manner into the realms of other constitutional actors. The court has expanded its competences primarily through its legislative function and its substantial input into procedural law reforms. As the court serves core interests of the party, the empowerment appears rather instrumentalist and reversible. However, the SPC is in a position to promote its own agenda by indicating deference to core party goals and, in exchange, being granted certain leeway to pursue its institutional interests.
Article
This study focuses on two primary control orientations in corrections—punishment and rehabilitation. Based on data collected from 225 community correctional officers in Hubei, China, in 2013, officers’ control orientations toward offenders and the effects of job characteristics, agency characteristics, and sociodemographics on these orientations were investigated. The research found that Chinese community correctional officers integrated punishment and rehabilitation orientations. Agency characteristics and rehabilitation views affected the officers’ views, while only one (age) of the job characteristics and demographic variables was significant.
Article
For decades, social control theorists in the West have gradually lost their political thrust and become structurally and psychologically centered. That is, they have become more concerned with the socialization process--by which individuals either conform to social norms or incline toward social deviance--and less concerned with society's role in reinforcing informal control forces. Under this model, the control of socially undesirable behavior is the only goal of social control, with heavy reliance on external controls--such as official penalties--to curb deviant conducts, which is the only place where the state is seen as having a role in social control either as being repressive against the disadvantaged or as compensatory for an individual's failure at social conformity.^ This study, contrary to the above "stateless" model, presents a state-strong-will commanded social control model in modern Chinese society through historical and cultural analyses. The emphases of this study rest on the dual intentions of social control--to control both human behavior and the mind--in China through officially planned political, social and legal measures and the convergence between the Chinese legal tradition and the Maoist revolutionary agenda of social conformity. To explore the historical depth, discussions of the early Legalist introduction of law, the Confucianization process of Chinese imperial law, and the penetration of familism, collectivism, and the patriarchally arranged hierarchal system into the administration of law outline the major characteristics of the Chinese legal tradition. The dual intentions of social control are vigorously substantiated in Mao Zedong's concept of revolutionary justice and in particular legal issues such as judicial independence and the Party's role, class division and differential status before law, thought control and counterrevolutionary crime in Chinese law, and thought reform and voluntariness in the Chinese judicial process.^ In conclusion, although China has been a Marxist state for the past four decades, Chinese traditional attitudes toward the role of law, the state authority, and social conformity have provided enormous moral and psychological preparation to help the Communist state leaders mobilize their social and economic resources in shaping the consequences of justice administration and social control.
Article
Job satisfaction is an important predictor of organizational efficiency and effectiveness; it can also predict attitudes and behaviors of staff. The field of organizational studies contains an ever-expanding quantity of empirical research on satisfaction, including research specifically focused on community corrections; however, no published research in the English language on satisfaction regarding community corrections in China currently exists. Using data from 225 community correctional officers from 15 counties (or equivalents) in Hubei, China in 2013, this study examined community correctional staff’s satisfaction and its predictors. The majority of Chinese community correctional officers were satisfied with their jobs. Role clarity, formalization, and perceived promotional opportunities were significant predictors of the satisfaction. Although distributive justice and procedural justice have often been found to be predictors of job satisfaction in the United States, particularly procedural justice, they were not predictors of job satisfaction among this group of Chinese community correctional staff.
Book
The Politics of Law and Stability in China examines the nexus between social stability and the law in contemporary China. It explores the impact of Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) rationales for social stability on legal reforms, criminal justice operations and handling of disputes and social unrest inside and outside China's justice agencies. © The Editors and Contributors Severally 2014. All rights reserved.
Article
China has long utilized community-based corrections for offenders. Before 2003, however, the practice lacked formalization and professionalization. Since 2003, prison overcrowding, a need for cost-effectiveness, and a move toward a more civilized method of reforming offenders have sped up China's use of community corrections. Based on a literature review of Chinese language publications and face-to-face interviews with local community corrections leaders and officers in Hubei, China, this is an exploratory study of community corrections in mainland China. We briefly examine the practice's developmental history and five types of sanctions-public surveillance, probation, parole, temporary execution of a sentence outside a confinement facility, and deprivation of political rights. China's community corrections' characteristics and implementation are investigated. Finally, the article discusses problems and challenges to China's community corrections system.