'Why are convicted officials getting out early?'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 February, 2013, 2:58pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 February, 2013, 11:00pm

Even behind bars, life seems easier for China’s party cadres and former officials.

For one thing, jailed officials seemed more likely to get parole than their cellmates, said an editorial by China Youth Daily on Thursday.

The article questioned the legitimacy of the parole term granted to a former Shanxi deputy party chief last year after he was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2006.

After online rumours claimed the former official, Wu Houjie, had been released, Shanxi authorities promptly explained that Wu was on parole.

“Is Wu’s parole legitimate?” asked the author.

Even though China’s law stipulates that prisoners will qualify for provisional release if their behaviour in jail meets certain standards, there is no way for the public to check, argued the report.

What’s more worrying is the fact that a much higher percentage of corrupt officials are granted parole, reductions in jail time and compassionate releases compared with their non-official counterparts, said the report.

An open system should be established to provide everyone access to details of officials’ parole cases, argued the report.

“Otherwise the government’s anti-corruption efforts and credibility would be severely undermined,” said the report.

Qu Xinjiu, a professor at China University of Political Science and Law, said he doubted if corrupt officials really had an unfair advantage when applying for parole.

“The public may feel that way, but we must conduct more serious studies to get accurate numbers before drawing any conclusions,” Qu said.

Jing Chou, a practicing lawyer in Chengdu, said corrupt officials are most often ‘economic criminals’. And thus it might be easier for them to get parole since they pose less of a direct threat to society than those convicted of more violent crimes, she said.