VIII. Employment, Resettlement,
Education and Protection for
Convicts Who Have Served
Their Term and Been Released

The Chinese Government attaches great importance to the protection of the civil rights of former convicts when they return to society after serving a sentence. The government has ruled that former prisoners are not to be discriminated against or shut out of society, and that they are to be offered jobs to provide them with opportunities to study and work and encourage them to go straight.

From long experience China is well aware of the fact that when a convict serves his or her sentence and is released, restoring and guaranteeing individual rights is important. However, the necessary conditions must be created; released prisoners must be given assistance in settling down and finding employment so they can avoid making the same mistakes all over again. Otherwise, restoring and guaranteeing a released prisoner's individual rights would be an empty gesture and would not have any really positive effect on society.

The Chinese Government pays a great deal of attention to making sure prisoners receive pre-release education. A criminal who has served nearly all of his sentence is sent to the release team who then take charge of the prisoner and the pre-release education. The release team makes an overall review of the prisoner's performance during reform in prison and, based on the results, provides supplementary education as needed to consolidate the positive results of the reform. Leading members and staff of local Party and government offices, taxation authorities, and industrial and commercial as well as labour and employment departments are invited to speak to the prisoners. They systematically explain recent social developments, current laws and policies, employment trends, etc. and teach them how to obey the law and behave properly, the best ways to handle practical problems they are likely to have, and how to deal with situations in daily life, family life, marriage and employment.

Prisoners who serve their sentences and are released are principally returned to where they used to live before they were imprisoned or where their immediate family lives. Society helps them settle down through various channels on many levels and in a number of forms. Those few who have no home to return to and are willing to stay on and accept employment are allowed to live in their former reform-through-labour institution.

The Joint Notification on Settling of Convicts Released from Imprisonment of May 1983, issued by the relevant departments of the State Council, provides a legal basis for the resettlement of released convicts. Following are the major points.

--- For a prisoner who has retained employee status during the term of imprisonment, resettlement is the responsibility of the former work unit.

--- For a prisoner who was dismissed or had his or her name removed from the payroll of the original work unit, but did well in reform-through-labour, before the prisoner's release the reform-through-labour institution is to recommend him or her to be rehired at the former work unit.

--- Someone who was jobless when arrested or is no longer suitable in some way to return to his or her former work unit is to be treated the same way as an ordinary person waiting for employment. In accordance with current employment policies, the labour department or neighbourhood committees in the city or town where the prisoner is released is to take positive steps to resettle the reformed criminal.

--- Someone who was in school when arrested is to be allowed to return to that school or go to a higher level school.

According to a random survey taken in several large cities, the settlement rate of released prisoners in Beijing from 1983 to 1990 averaged 83.4%, peaking at 90.2% in 1988. The average settlement rate in Shanghai was 79% from 1982 to 1986, 42.6% finding jobs in state or collective enterprises, 26.9% becoming self-employed and 9.5% finding other types of employment. In Tianjin, the average settlement rate in recent years was 85%.

In order to solidify the successful reform of released prisoners and prevent them from returning to crime, local governments coordinate the efforts of the relevant departments, society at large and the prisoner's own relatives and friends in supplementing the assistance, education and protection provided for them. For those who have a work unit, the factory or enterprise contacts the trade union, the youth league or workshop to set up an assistance group to help them. Those who have no work unit are the responsibility of neighbourhood committees and relevant departments. Township or village authorities are responsible for those who settle in rural areas, designating specific people to help them. Those who conduct themselves well are promtly commended and encouraged to make more progress; those who have made mistakes are given sincere help and advice. Those who seem to be returning to crime are continually advised of the bad consequences of such actions in an attempt to re-educate them with reason.

On March 2nd, 1991, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress passed the Decision on Strengthening the Multifaceted Approach to Public Security. It clearly stipulates that efforts to educate, rescue and reform law-breakers and criminals are to be strengthened, and that released convicts are to be appropriately settled to reduce the chance of their breaking the law again.

In June, 1990, the first Working Committee for the Care of the Next Generation was set up in China, with assistance, education and protection of juvenile deliquents as one of its tasks. Such committees, composed mainly of senior cadres, teachers and workers, have one by one been established in many regions, with about one million senior cadres across the country now involved in this work.

As a result of the implementation of these laws, policies and measures, the rate of recidivism among prisoners released in China is fairly low. Many areas and work units have experienced no recidivism at all for as long as ten or more years. Take for example, the Hongshu Housing Construction Team in the Yuexiu District of Guangzhou, founded in 1979. It has employed 178 juvenile deliquents and released prisoners since its founding, including 15 who became store managers, leaders of construction teams or chairmen of a trade union and 118 who have been commended by provincial, municipal, district or neighbourhood authorities. For over ten years they have not had a single case of a juvenile deliquent or reformed prisoner going back to crime.