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Russia and China’s Correctional System

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Overview of Russia and China’s Correctional System, Historical Background and Current Correctional Structure
The Chinese correctional system dates back to the formation of Lao Gai, an institution by Communist theoreticians in China, which meant re-educating or reforming convicts through labor. Today, Lao Gai stands for the correctional system in China. According to Guo et al. (2004), the legislation of Reform through Labor in 1957 gave Lao Gai more strength in corrections. The principle applied in Lao Gai arose from the belief that convicts’ labor could never be beneficial to the state if it were inherently extracted through torture or coercion. Correctional facilities in China pioneered in prisoner motivation, especially in rehabilitation. The Chinese correctional systems in 1950s and 60s were run like organized factories and mostly had people considered as revolutionaries and threat to the communist government. Many convicts were imprisoned for religious or political reasons but the prison reforms of 1970s by Deng Xiaoping saw many of the prisoners released. In China, 16 years is the age when one bears criminal responsibility for his or her actions, but death penalty does not apply to people under 18 years (Gleissner, 2010).
However, China abandoned Lao Gai in 1990 and classified the prison facilities. In 1997, the immense criticism emanating from the use of prison labor in camps where prisoners were forced to work to produce consumer products which were exported to the United States and Europe brought Lao Gai to an end. The criticism was based on the argument that China violated human rights by using prison labor in manufacturing industry for a profit (Guo et al., 2004).
Guo et al. (2004) maintain that the current Chinese correctional structure is under the Ministry of Justice where a bureau guided by the Prison Law supervises the prisons. At the provincial level, the prisons are managed by municipalities as well as justice offices. The Chinese prisons are classified into two, namely: prisons where inmates with fixed sentenced are incarcerated, and penitentiaries, which are special prisons for juvenile delinquents.
On extradition of prisoners who have been convicted in China, it is very difficult because China is not signatory to any multilateral or bilateral treaty, especially criminal extradition with another nation. The only treaties China consented are three conventions (between 1970s and 1980s), all centered on aviation safety (Guo et al, 2004). Extradition of criminals through diplomatic channels has proved difficult in China.
The Russian correctional system is historically called the Gulag. Gulag in Russia refers to the prison camps, which existed for forced labor in 1920s but came to an end in 1950s. In 1929, Stalin became a leader of Russia and forced prisoners in Gulag to slavery labor. It was during that period of rule when many inmates died and Stalin is to blame for his coveted aim of realizing financial-political power (Gleissner, 2010). Though Gulag does not exist in Russia today, the correctional structure has changed and the Gulag has been INSERTd by penitentiary. The United States’ Big House period and penitentiary are similar to the penitentiary in Russia, although the difference resides in rehabilitation and solitary confinement.
According to Kalinin (2002), Russia ranks highest among nations that imprison a great number of the citizens. Given the high re-offending rates in Russia, the corrections are a major reminder of a nation that has its priority on punishment as opposed to rehabilitation. As of 1st January 2003, 864,590 Russians were in prison, according to a report by Russian Federation where in every 100,000 citizens, there are 606 inmates in a population of 147.7 million people. In comparison with the United States with 300 million Americans and 1.3 million incarcerated, Russia is ranked among the nations with the highest population of inmates around the world.
The correctional system in Russia is sub-divided in those who wait pretrial and those inmates who have been sentenced. Gleissner (2010) argues that individuals who wait for pretrial are detained in centers managed by the Defense Ministry. The detention centers in Russia are similar to the local or city jail of the United States. Like the Chinese corrections, Russian correctional facilities are managed by Federal jurisdiction, which is subsequently under the Ministry of Justice. The judicial structure is categorized into three groups: piece justice, regional and district courts, and highest level called Supreme Court.
The Russian penal system has seen changes in 1980s after the Post-Soviet era. Although most of the changes embraced are inclusive of the Western penitentiary conditions, much remains to be done on the infrastructural facilities where the main problem is overcrowding. Parole is granted by a board on whether an inmate deserves early release for non-violent conduct after serving part of the prison sentence or does not deserve it. However, much remains to be done, especially in observing rehabilitative methods which are cost-effective and beneficial like retribution than incarceration (Gleissner, 2010).

Compare Similarities between Russia and China’s Correctional Systems
Both nations rank among the nations that have utilized prisoners’ free labor to their factories and have violated human rights by establishing prison camps where prisoners were forced to work. China only abolished the Lao Gai corrections system in 1990 when rehabilitation of inmates was through hard, forced labor. This was only after the U.S. and Europe turned against China’s exportation of goods manufactured with the forced labor of inmates. On the other hand, Russia had the Gulag where Stalin tentatively reaped prisoners’ hard labor for financial-political power. Both nations have a high number of inmates where it is an economic challenge maintaining the prisoners in the corrections system, which all fall under the Justice Ministries. Capital punishment is administered in the two nations for heinous crimes. Crackdown on activists is common with resultant incarceration even after reforms in justice systems (Gleissner, 2010). Parole is accepted in both countries where a board decides on early release, depending on the behavior of inmates of non-violent conduct.

Compare Differences between Russia and China’s Correctional Systems
Although the two nations share much in the correctional systems, a lot of differences exist especially in the execution of the rehabilitation and prison facilities. Whereas Russia has adapted the penitentiary system of the West and remained rooted on punishment for gradual change of inmates and eventual re-absorption to the society, the Chinese correctional system has employed motivational approach using the prisoners’ labor for economic gain. Unlike Russia, China has pursued rehabilitative methods (education, vocational training) other than punishment in its correctional system where inmates offer their services to the state (Gleissner, 2010). China has also sort other means of sentencing other than incarceration in which public security administers and oversees the retribution and those citizens assigned to outside sentence. This has proved to be cost-effective for the Chinese government, unlike Russia, which depends on outside assistance to maintain and feed the rising prison population. Moreover, China has a system that functions quite well in sustaining the expenditure at the correctional facilities, unlike the rampant corruption in Russia where it has proved to be difficult sustaining health care in prison, let alone starting rehabilitative programs (Kalinin, 2002). On the contrary, Russia has over time preferred incarceration, which is to blame for the rising cases of crowding in its correctional facilities.

Extradition of Citizens incarcerated in Russia and China
Russia is a signatory to many statutes and treaties concerning extradition of criminals of other nations. By contrast, China is not signatory to any multilateral or bilateral treaty that involves criminals’ extradition (Guo et al, 2004). Therefore, extradition of the United States prisoners through diplomatic channels will prove more difficult for a U.S. ambassador to China. Moreover, with China only permitting extradition of prisoners who have violated aviation safety, it will be very difficult to extradite prisoners who committed other criminal offenses from its correctional system; this also differs from the Russian system.

References

Gleissner, J. D. (2010). Prison & slavery: A surprising comparison. Denver, Colo: Outskirts Press.
Guo, J et al, (2004). World factbook of criminal justice system. Shanghai: Contemporary China Press
Kalinin, Y. I. (2002). The Russian penal system: past, present, and future. Speech in University of London.

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