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Juvenile offenders sent home to get help

Updated: 2015-09-01 10:35
By Zhou Wenting (chinadaily.com.cn)

Juveniles from Jiangsu province who commit crimes in Shanghai can be brought to their hometown for redemption and supervision thanks to the country's first intra-provincial cooperation in juvenile prosecutions.

The agreement between Shanghai and Jiangsu province will make minors involved in crimes more equal in judicial protection, said Yi Shenghua, a criminal lawyer in Beijing.

Since 2003, most juveniles committing minor crimes in Shanghai have been given an opportunity to wipe the slate clean instead of receiving a prison term. If the young offenders have guardians or a fixed residence in Shanghai, they can be supervised in communities to keep them on the straight and narrow, instead of being arrested and prosecuted, in order to better protect juveniles while maintaining social stability.

But that seems impractical for those from outside of Shanghai. However, nonnative residents make up the majority of teenagers involved in crimes in Shanghai. Nearly 87 percent of the minors committing crimes in the city in 2014 were nonnative, and most of them did not have guardians, a fixed residence or source of income in the city, according to the Shanghai People's Procuratorate.

A total of 68 observation bases — partner enterprises that offer young offenders a place to live and work — have been established in Shanghai since 2004 to help give minors from other provinces and cities equal opportunities to be exempt from staying in cells. Nearly 500 minors have received help from such bases.

However, when dealing with the cases, prosecuting officers noticed it would be better to send the minors to their native provinces and cities as long as there is a juvenile protection organization or legal representatives of the teenager who can follow up with their behavior and care for them, and as long as the juvenile is willing to return.

Several cases have proved encouraging.

A 17-year-old from Tonglu county, Zhejiang province, recently stole a motorcycle worth 4,500 yuan ($700) in Shanghai's Baoshan district. He soon regretted his misbehavior but was captured by police when returning the motorcycle.

He did not show strong malice in the case and his parents suggested bringing him home for supervision. He was not prosecuted and members of the village committee were appointed his supervisors.

"Sending the teenagers home is a more ideal way as their relatives and social workers there will be more familiar with their personal experiences. That better conforms to our philosophy of helping them go back to their studies, work and social lives after a spell of repentance and rectification," said Zhong Ying, director of juvenile prosecutions for Shanghai People's Procuratorate.

Shanghai started its cooperation with neighboring Jiangsu province, which has a large population flow into Shanghai and a well-developed redemption work system for juvenile violators.

"The cooperation mechanism will hopefully be extended nationwide," Zhong said.

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