V. Changing Criminals through
Methods of Persuasion

Changing criminals through methods of persuasion is an integral part of China's efforts to reform criminals, for which Chinese reform-through-labour institutions have generally adopted the following measures.

--- Healthy cultural, recreational and sports activities are offered in China's prisons and reform-through-labour institutions to create a positive atmosphere for bringing about change in the prisoners.

All prisons and reform-through-labour institutions have libraries and reading rooms for prisoners with books concerning politics, culture, literature, and science and technology as well as a variety of newspapers and magazines which may also be ordered by a prisoner at his or her own expense. Prisons and reform-through-labour institutions often offer eligible prisoners the opportunity to engage in activities such as artistic creation, news writing, reading, lecturing and essay writing competitions.

Many prisons and reform-through-labour institutions provide the prisoners with special teachers, painting rooms, and painting tools and materials and offer calligraphy, painting and other art classes. Some also invite teachers from society at large to give lectures at the prison. Shanghai Municipal Prison has held an exhibition every year since 1983, featuring 200-300 pieces of art created by prisoners. In autumn 1990, a museum in Beijing held an arts and crafts exhibition where over 700 pieces done by prisoners in calligraphy, seal cutting, sketching, oil painting, traditional Chinese painting, gouache, clay sculpture, stone carving, jade carving, wood carving, root carving, batik, embroidery, weaving, and paper cutting were displayed, which was well-received by the public.

Many prisons and reform-through-labour institutions have organized performing troupes made up of prisoners, who give performances produced by the criminals themselves. In some institutions sports activities such as basketball, table-tennis, and tug-of-war, in addition to various board games are often organized for the prisoners.

As part of the effort to educate and reform criminals as well as to enliven their daily lives, China's prisons and reform-through-labour institutions publish three newspapers, the Reform-through-labour News, the Blackboard News and the Wall News. Though prison staff are responsible for these newspapers, prisoners do the writing, editing, copying and blockprinting. At present, the Reform-through-Labour Newspaper has a circulation of 224,000 within the prisons. These prison newspapers, which are interesting and full of information, are praised by the prisoners as "good teachers and helpful friends on the road to reform".

--- China sets great store by the beneficial effects which the personal examples and words of the prison staff have on the prisoners in their care.

The state requires all prison staff to be ideologically morally sound in order to guide and inspire the prisoners with their civilized speech and behaviour in their daily work. The prison staff need to work especially hard on the education, conversion and redemption of juvenile deliquents, working in a sincere, patient and painstaking manner like parents with children, doctors with patients and teachers with students. Sometimes, the prison staff have to talk to a prisoner ten, twenty or even a hundred times before their concern can move the prisoner. When prisoners have special family or marital problems, organs of the reform-through-labour institution do their best to help, working with relevant social organizations.

--- Organizations in society actively participate and help in reforming criminals through education and persuasion.

This is one of the major characteristics of China's efforts to reform criminals and it has proven to be very successful in practice. Talks are given to criminals in prisons and reform- through-labour institutions by leaders of party committees and government departments; deputies of people's congresses; members of political consultative conference committees; responsible persons from the trade unions, the youth league, the women's league and judicial organs at all levels, and famous personalities, heroes, model workers, veteran cadres, senior teachers, workers and artists in society. They lecture on current affairs and ideals, raise the hopes of the criminals, make them feel as though people care about them and help them see that they have a bright future. Crime victims are also invited to come to prisons and reform-through-labour institutions to condemn the harm caused by crime to help enhance the criminals' sense of guilt and make them feel more responsible and repentant for their crimes.

Reform-through-labour institutions often invite model reformed prisoners who have turned their life around through reform to talk about their own experience. This plays a very positive role in building up the prisoners' confidence in reform.

When possible, reform-through-labour institutions arrange for prisoners who have shown good behaviour to go on a study tour of places of interest in society, or to have leaves during holidays for family reunions. This allows them to see how society is progressing and to feel that they are still members of society who should return as soon as possible to participate in the modernization drive of the country.

--- Reform-through-labour institutions actively encourage family members of prisoners to take part in the persuasion process.

In addition to regular visits covered by the rules, prisons and reform-through-labour institutions sometimes set up special visits for family members of criminals who are not progressing steadily toward reform so that they can advise the troubled criminal. The prison staff informs the visiting relatives of the recent thinking and behaviour of the prisoner, occasionally showing them around the cells and work places and inviting them to help in the ideological remoulding of the criminals.

The reform of criminals through persuasion by reform- through-labour institutions has received a sincere response from most prisoners.

On April 26, 1990, at 18:00 hours a severe earthquake of magnitude 6.9 quickly devastated most of the offices and dormitory buildings of the No.13 Reform-through-Labour Detachment in Qinhai. The buildings housing the prisoners were solidly built, so no prisoners were killed or seriously injured. In spite of the aftershocks and the fact that all the lights were out, not a single prisoner tried to escape. Instead, they began carrying out frantic relief work, rescuing 118 prison staff and family members. Afterwards, 115 prisoners had their sentences reduced or were released on parole, receiving favourable treatment in accordance with the law. Another 169 prisoners were cited or commended for meritorious service.