English 中文网 漫画网 爱新闻iNews 翻译论坛
当前位置: Language Tips> 译通四海> Columnist 专栏作家> Liu Shinan

Prisons still in dire need of reform

[ 2009-03-04 10:24]     字号 [] [] []  
免费订阅30天China Daily双语新闻手机报:移动用户编辑短信CD至106580009009

Prisons still in dire need of reform

Finally the truth came out in the "hide-and-seek" case that has aroused much media attention across the nation. After an initial false report by prison authorities and an unsuccessful investigation by a panel consisting of "representatives of netizens", the Yunnan Provincial Procuratorate announced last Friday that Li Qiaoming, the inmate who died in a prison in the province on Feb 8, was actually beaten to death by "prison bullies".

The Jinning detention house had previously claimed that Li died while playing hide-and-seek with other inmates. The incident sparked a public uproar as most accused prison authorities for covering up the truth.

The more outrageous, I think, is the fact that some prisoners were allowed to bully or even torture other inmates under the nose of the wardens.

Prisons and detention houses are places where criminals are supposed to be imprisoned and reformed to become law-abiding citizens. It is unbelievable that they can play the despot and do whatever they like within the State apparatus of punishment. Unfortunately it happens in some prisons.

Just three months ago, a court in Gansu province sentenced a "prison bully" to death and extended the term of two others because they had beaten another prisoner so severely that he sustained serious brain injuries.

Prisons still in dire need of reform

In 2003, a similar incident shocked the nation. Eight prisoners in a reformatory in Huludao, Liaoning province, beat a fellow inmate every day for a whole month until he died.

One cannot help asking: "How come this phenomenon is tolerated in prisons?"

Lax management is undoubtedly the main reason. What is worse, however, is that wardens in some prisons appoint the most violent prisoners as "group leader" or "meeting convener" to help control other inmates. These designated leaders, often feared and revered as "Big Brother" by fellow prisoners, form gangs in the ward to bully weaker inmates or extort "presents" from them. The wardens turn a blind eye to their behavior.

An even more heinous case was revealed last month. The chief warden in Lingshui detention house in Hainan province took bribes from inmates and allowed some to change wards and extort weaker inmates.

The existence of such phenomena is particularly worrying. If all prisons were like the above-mentioned jails, how could we expect criminals to be reformed and society to become safer? It is not uncommon for released prisoners to become even more lawless than they were before they were imprisoned.

Prisons still in dire need of reform

Certainly we have reasons to believe that the phenomenon exists only in a small number of reformatories in our country. But the problem should not be neglected. It is serious enough.

A search of relevant information shows that at least seven years ago, the Ministry of Public Security, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate jointly launched a campaign to "resolutely crack down on prison bullies and maintain order in detention houses".

The recent cases mentioned above indicate that the problem is far from being solved.

E-mail: liushinan@hotmail.com

About the author:

刘式南 高级编辑。1968年毕业于武汉华中师范学院(现华中师范大学)英文系。1982年毕业于北京体育学院(现北京体育大学)研究生院体育情报专业。1982年进入中国日报社,先后担任体育记者、时政记者、国际新闻编辑、要闻版责任编辑、发稿部主任、《上海英文星报》总编辑、《中国商业周刊》总编辑等职。现任《中国日报》总编辑助理及专栏作家。1997年获国务院“特殊贡献专家政府津贴”。2000年被中华全国新闻工作者协会授予“全国百佳新闻工作者”称号。2006年获中国新闻奖二等奖(编辑)。