Roughly three decades after a furlough program was retired, the Chinese Ministry of Justice granted some prisoners a temporary release to attend family reunions with their loved ones for the country’s Spring Festival holiday in February, according to the China Daily.
Approximately 1,300 prisoners from 300 penitentiaries around the country were screened to participate in the release program.
“Allowing inmates to temporarily leave prison to attend family reunions is a legal reward for inmates regulated by China’s Prison Law,” said Jiang Jinbing, director of the Jiangsu Prison Management Bureau, according to the Legal Daily.
Still, it wasn’t a simple break for inmates. Supervisors monitored the process for the reunions, including risk assessments and daily performance reports. Prisoners wore mandatory electronic bracelets attached to GPS devices, registered at the local police stations and checked in with prison officials daily, said the article.
Kan, whose last name was withheld, was one of the prisoners granted the release. Kan was sentenced to four years for leaving the scene of an accident that left one person dead and one injured.
At the reunion, Kan was choked with emotion when he saw his wife, mother, son and newborn grandson, the article said.
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“They told me about the news when they visited me in the prison, but seeing them with my eyes is a total different experience,” said Kan. “I felt really sorry for my family and the victims.”
“My wife and I shed tears when we talked about the years that I was absent, and she struggled to support the family,” he added.
“Allowing inmates to temporarily leave prison to attend family reunions is a legal reward for inmates regulated by China’s Prison Law”
During his visit home, Kan asked his son to visit and support his deceased victim’s family as often as possible. Kan himself plans to compensate them after his release in a year.
The Chinese prison system abolished the reunion program in the 1980s due to technical and financial reasons, the Beijing News reported.
But with the encouragement from the country’s Ministry of Justice to use various means to help with prison rehabilitation, some prisons relaunched the program in late 2017.
“Many of my cellmates envied my family reunion and said they will behave better to get such a chance,” Kan said.
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