Prepare prisoners for life after release

Updated: 2013-12-12 09:43

By Cao Yin in Beijing and Luo Wangshu in Chongqing (China Daily)

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Since it was founded in 2005, the organization has helped more than 400 former prisoners, and, following a successful trial last year, is now planning to provide more job opportunities overseas.

"I arranged for 10 or so ex-convicts from Beijing to travel overseas to work - mainly to South Korea and Japan - when they were released last year. The move was very successful," said Wang, who now plans to extend the process and offer similar opportunities to ex-inmates across the country.

"Many prisoners are treated with distain when they return home. The best way to alleviate this embarrassment is to get them a job as quickly as possible and ask them to keep away from their homes temporarily to avoid the stigma and rejection," explained Wang.

The organization's website contains information about job opportunities and employers' contact numbers, helping ex-inmates to find low-grade work in factories or small companies early in the reintegration process.

"If they can gain experience in our recommended workplaces, they will be accepted by other employers easily and quickly," said Wang. "Once former prisoners have jobs, the urge to commit crime weakens, and so does the necessity," he added.

Wang's view was echoed by Yang Yuantu, a prison officer at Yongchuan Prison in Chongqing, who said the skills inmates are required to learn in prison of basic tailoring and assembling PCs can result in stable jobs on the outside. "If a man can get stable work, the potential to re-offend is reduced," he said.

In addition to community correction and nongovernmental groups, many ex-prisoners in Beijing live in halfway houses, designed to aid reintegration.

Cai Weihua, an officer at the Sunshine Halfway House in Beijing's Xicheng district, said she and her colleagues regularly visit former prisoners living in the area to provide them with a basic living allowance immediately after their release.

"We also arrange for them to visit exhibitions, study basic law and learn firefighting techniques. We always urge them to participate in voluntary activities," she said.

Since the department's foundation in 2010, more than 100 ex-convicts have lived stable lives and there has not been a single incidence of re-offending.

"If they have any problems, they can reach us at all times. We'll contact the authorities on their behalf and try to solve their difficulties as quickly as possible," she said, adding that the organization respects the feelings of those few former prisoners who are unwilling to be disturbed and leaves them to live on their own terms.