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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Prisons relocated in post-quake Sichuan province

(Xinhua)

13:01, December 30, 2011

CHENGDU, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- Southwest China's Sichuan province has relocated 70 percent of its prisons from remote mountainous areas to cities in order to provide a better environment for prisoners and make family visits easier.

More than 400 prisoners on Wednesday were moved from temporary wards in Lushan county to the city of Deyang, a heavy industrial base just 70 km from the provincial capital Chengdu.

The inmates were serving their terms at Aba Prison in Maoxian, a remote county in the Aba Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefecture, when an 8.0-magnitude earthquake shook Sichuan province in May 2008 and seriously damaged some prison facilities.

The prison's 1,900 inmates, mostly of the Tibetan and Qiang ethnic groups, were moved to temporary facilities in other parts of the province shortly after the quake, while new prisons were being built.

The new prison in Huangxu township of Deyang, about 10 km from the nearest provincial expressway, is a 70,000-square-meter structure that cost more than 200 million yuan (31.7 million U.S. dollars).

"It has easier access to traffic, so family members and volunteers can visit more often," said Liu Guomin, head of the prison.

He said more contact with the outside world will help the prisoners mend their ways and adapt faster to their new lives once their terms are up.

The new prison is equipped with counseling rooms, meeting rooms, a hospital, a supermarket, an entertainment center and a workshop where inmates can do some simple work, he said.

As more than 60 percent of the inmates are Tibetans or ethnic Qiang people, the prison menu offers beef, yak butter and tsamba.

"Tibetan inmates are encouraged to dance their traditional dances to celebrate the Tibetan new year and other festive occasions," said Liu, calling this "an effort to retain the Tibetan tradition."

The prison also runs its own newspaper, New Life, which publishes inmates' essays about prison life and plans for the future. The paper is printed in Tibetan and Chinese.

Sichuan province has spent 2 billion yuan on rebuilding 38 prisons over the past six years. More than 10 prisons have been moved from remote mountainous areas to new locations on the outskirts of big and medium-sized cities.

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