VI. Humane Handling of
Prisoners in Accordance with
the Law

The basic principle governing management of prions and reform-through-labour institutions in China is humane handling of prisoners in accordance with the law. This means respecting the human dignity of prisoners and treating them humanely, resolutely forbidding prisoners to be humiliated and taking full advantage of the restraining, corrective, inspirational and guiding role of management in reforming criminals.

Criminals are sent to an orientation programme when they first arrive at the prison to learn in detail their legal status, rights and obligations as well as to become familiar with the prison environment. During this one to two month programme, prisoners study prison regulations and code of conduct in addition to relevant laws and decrees, laying the groundwork for their reform. This helps to dispel the new prisoners' normal feelings of passive antagonism and dread and enables them to come in contact and discuss what is on their minds with prison staff in a natural way.

Management of prisons and reform-through-labour institutions involves each and every aspect of the daily activities of the prisoners. The criteria and procedures for assessing daily conduct and conditions for rewards and penalties for prisoners are codified and publicly promulgated in order to prevent arbitrary or capricious behaviour on the part of the prison staff in their work. Prison staff must abide by this code to the letter in all aspects of their work. They keep records of the prisoners' progress in reform, regularly analyzing and summarizing their records. They commend and record the merits of those who have made outstanding progress in reform-through-labour and grant them favoured treatment in their living conditions and activities within the prison. For prisoners who meet the requirements, their cases are reported to the People's Court, where their sentence may be commuted or they may be released on parole in accordance with the law. This encourages a positive attitude toward reform-through-labour among the prisoners and establishes a positive atmosphere for reform- through-labour in the prisons.

Reform-through-labour institutions require the prison staff to maintain close track of all the day-to-day activities of the prisoners. They must organize work and study for, conduct classes for and have personal heart-to-heart talks with prisoners. They also have meals with them on major holidays and participate in recreational and sports activities with them, to establish emotional and intellectual ties. This contact goes as far as possible to dispel any feelings of aversion and repressed antagonism which the prisoners may feel toward the prison staff. Thanks to the effectiveness of these measures, there have been few incidences of prisoners attacking prison staff or sabotaging prison facilities in China.

In accordance with prison rules and decrees, the handful of prisoners who are serious violators of prison regulations or codes of conduct or who resist reform or commit another crime are punished. Punishment by solitary confinement in individual cases for serious violators of prison regulations must be collectively discussed by the prison staff and reported to the leaders of the reform-through-labour unit for approval. The duration of solitary confinement may not exceed 15 days. Prisoners in confinement are let out about an hour or so twice a day for fresh air, and provided exactly the same living conditions as other prisoners who do not take part in labour activities.

Any reward or punishment meted out by reform-through- labour institutions is subject to the supervision of the People's Procuratorate, which has the authority to demand correction of any actions in the management of these institutions that do not conform with regulations at any time.