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China Vows to Finance Mass Incarceration with Public Funds, Not Prison Profits

Despite its atrocious human rights record, China appears to be trying to ensure prisoner safety while at the same time properly financing its prisons.

Wu Aiying, China's Minister of Justice, announced in April 2012 while addressing a legislative committee that profits from prison-run enterprises will now primarily finance rehabilitative programs, rather than the intrinsic costs of paying for China's nearly 700 prisons nationwide and salaries for its 300,000 prison guards.

"Those expenses, Wu told a session of the Standing, Committee of the National People's Congress, will now be paid for mostly by central and provincial government spending.

Public financings of China's prisons—which currently incarcerate 1.64 million prisoners—paid for almost 88% of the total costs in 2011, Wu said. She also argued that safety conditions have improved now that prisoners are prohibited from working with explosive, flammable, poisonous or environmentally hazardous materials.

Wu said that China's prisons, under the direction of the justice ministry, are also strengthening rehabilitative and educational opportunities for prisoners. A new correctional program implemented across China earlier this year mandates that prisoners have five days of work experience every week – one day of in-class study and one day off.

Since 2008, according to justice ministry figures, 1.25 million Chinese prisoners have completed compulsory and literacy educational programs and, Wu added, they can receive vocational training and certification.

Wu also said that counseling and psychological treatment have also been made available to prisoners.



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