Southern Metropolitan Daily Discusses Decline in the Number of Re-education Through Labor Detainees

February 10, 2005

The number of RETL detainees in Guangzhou city has dropped significantly in recent years, with the total number of detainees at only 20 percent of that in 1995, according to officials cited in a Southern Metropolitan Daily report. The characteristics of RETL detainees in Guangzhou have also reportedly changed. Seventy to eighty percent of detainees are now from outside Guangdong province, and seventy percent of detainees are drug users.

In response to these shifts, RETL bureau officials are said to be coordinating with prison bureau officials to shift RETL resources towards the detention of individuals convicted of minor crimes in the criminal justice system. This potential reform is only in the planning stages, however, as problems linking administrative and criminal detention mechanisms have not been resolved.

The article notes that scholars and some delegates to the National People’s Congress (NPC) recently have raised numerous challenges to RETL. It cites NPC delegates and Professor Ying Songnian as saying that the legal basis for the RETL system is problematic. The critics also charge that police have too much discretion to punish individuals under RETL without outside supervision, and that many people would rather be judged in a criminal trial than be subject to punishment under the RETL regime.