Security Imperative, Reformation and Compliance: Understanding the Prison System in China
This article reviews the evolution of the legal framework and policy basis of the prison system in socialist China. The discussion will also trace the dual goals in the implementation of prison sentences, i.e., punishment and reformation. Stability and security have been the top priority in China’s prison management. Commensurate with the scheme, recent prison reform initiatives include several legal and policy reforms to institutionalise and professionalise prison management. On the one hand, reforms set out to separate the administration of prison finances from prison-run enterprises. On the other hand, the Ministry of Justice reconfigures the reformation programs to encourage the attitudinal compliance of inmates. However, the inextricable links between security and compliance might inflame tensions over the preservation of stability/security and the cultivation of inmates’ autonomy/independence.
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