Writin' that jailhouse rock

Updated: 2012-05-16 07:56

By Cao Yin (China Daily)

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Zhao Yi has a song in his heart for juvenile offenders.

"The better way to approach young suspects' hearts is slowly and sensibly because showing our feelings directly and blindly may misguide or frighten them," said Zhao, a prosecutor and a music lover in Beijing.

The 33-year-old pulled out a picture of a former suspect he met a couple of years ago.

Writin' that jailhouse rock

Prosecutor Zhao Yi plays a song he composed at his office in Beijing. Jiang Dong / China Daily 

"He came to Beijing as a typical juvenile suspect," Zhao said.

The slim boy from Northeast China's Jilin province, whom he called Xiao Xin, was suspected of raping a girl in 2009, when he was 17.

Although the case never proceeded to court, a new friendship began when the boy told the prosecutor he had a passion for composing.

"He couldn't play any instruments, but I can do that. I wanted to be his musical partner to show off his elegant words," said Zhao, twanging his guitar strings, squinting his eyes and humming a tune.

Zhao led a band in the university with three other men and a woman on campuses across the capital, composing folk rhythms and performing in festivals.

"When I started doing juvenile prosecution two years ago, I thought I might be far from music, but Xiao Xin's arrival let me know that music would never leave me."

One night last year, Xiao Xin, who had been working at a car repair shop in his hometown, left Zhao a message saying he had finished the lyrics of a song he wrote for one of the prosecuting authority's workers as a birthday gift.

The song, called Thank You, aimed to express the young man's thanks for the worker's assistance and love.

Zhao recorded a demo with his equipment at home and perfected the lyrics.

"The young suspect's words were very honest and passionate. I was itching to compose. Excited, I finished the song in 20 minutes," Zhao said.

He once thought prosecution should be serious and rigorous, but now he finds a relaxed and peaceful way is better and easier.

Zhao's colleague Yu Haiyan said she was proud of Zhao and thought his way of educating was charming.

"Sometimes our correctional work is a burden for children. It's harsh and ruthless, but music can alleviate such feelings and become the common bond between prosecutors and the young," said Yu, who has more than 30 years of working experience.

"The way that Zhao communicates with young suspects is innovative and energetic. I have used light music at the end of my speeches in schools," she added.

Zhao said he will continue composing music in his work.

"It's useful to open children's hearts and also help for myself, to reduce pressure at work," he said.