Rehabilitating criminals take a test of personal care during their community correction program in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, earlier this month. (SHAO SHIXIN/FOR CHINA DAILY)
The country's first legal document specializing in community correction is being reviewed by legislators.
Community correction is designed to rehabilitate criminals who received relatively lenient punishments and to help them better integrate into society.
The draft was submitted to a bimonthly season of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, for first reading on Tuesday.
The draft clarifies community correction - a noncustodial sentence - is aimed at criminals who have won reprieve, been released on parole, placed under surveillance or allowed to temporarily serve their sentences out of prison.
It also stipulates judicial administrations will take charge of community correction, while courts, procuratorates and public security departments will coordinate their actions.
"Community correction is a crucial measure to punish offenders and promote the governance of the country," said Minister of Justice Fu Zhenghua while explaining the draft to legislators on Tuesday.
He said that a pilot program for the measure was launched in 2003 and was extended across the nation in 2009. In the past 16 years, the country had accepted 4.3 million offenders into the correctional program while discharging 3.6 million, he said.
So far, about 700,000 criminals are under community correction, he added.
Legal costs for a criminal under the community correction are just one-tenth of prison, and only 0.2 percent of those who went through the program committed crimes again, according to a statement from the ministry.
"The measure has played a positive role in maintaining social stability and safety, and it has contributed to building a country that follows the rule of law," Fu said.
Some basic rules had previously been written into the Chinese Criminal Law and the Criminal Procedure Law, but the draft gives more specifics based on the previous program.
For example, it states that those responsible for community correction should have knowledge of the law and encourages social entities or enterprises to participate in the job.
It asks governments and relevant departments at or above county levels not only to offer places to aid and educate criminals under community correction, but to also organize social efforts.
"We also make clear supervision measures in the draft," Fu said. "For instance, officials responsible for community correction should take immediate action when discovering that criminals are out of control. Police should aid in the search for such criminals."
In addition, the draft offers a special section for juveniles that guides the community correction to protect and assist children.