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Re-education through labor under review

By Zhao Yinan  (China Daily)

17:34, October 10, 2012

Official admits reform needed in deciding proper process for approval

A senior official on judicial reform confirmed on Tuesday that authorities are working on a reform plan of laojiao, the controversial re-education through labor system.

Jiang Wei, an official in charge of the Central Leading Group for Judicial Reform, has admitted there are loopholes in the laojiao correctional system, which can place a person behind bars for three years without a trial.

The punishment can be extended to a fourth year if the person being held in laojiao confinement is considered not sufficiently re-educated.

While maintaining China's system is legitimate and has had a positive influence on social stability, Jiang admitted reform is necessary, especially in the approval procedure in which authorities decide if a person should receive a laojiao sentence.

Jiang said authorities have reached a consensus on the necessity of the reforms and have been conducting research. He was unable to provide a timetable for the reform.

Yet the status of the half-century old laojiao system has been the subject of wide speculation.

The system was most recently in the spotlight in August, when the mother of a rape victim was sentenced to laojiao for repeatedly petitioning authorities.

The mother was released after her case prompted many lawmakers and web users to call for a reform or abolition of the system.

By 2005, the laojiao correctional system was used to punish offenders in 580,000 cases related to drug abuse, representing over half of laojiao sentences, the Ministry of Justice said in a statement quoted by the Legal Daily.

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