Chi­nese jail trains pris­on­ers to use so­cial me­dia, on­line shop­ping

Global Times US Edition - - CHINA -

Pris­on­ers at Sichuan Yizhou Prison can now talk with their fam­i­lies through video chat af­ter be­ing taught some pop­u­lar so­cial me­dia func­tions.

More­over, they are taught how to shop on­line, and how to use a ticket vend­ing ma­chine, WeChat and Ali­pay – the pop­u­lar apps that many peo­ple are us­ing ev­ery day in China as e-pay­ment be­comes per­va­sive in the coun­try, do­mes­tic news site chi­nanews.com re­ported on Oc­to­ber 28.

The teach­ing of the on­line func­tions aims to help pris­on­ers avoid be­com­ing alien­ated and dis­con­nected and rein­te­grate them into so­ci­ety.

Liu Lang (pseu­do­nym), 48, was chat­ting with his fa­ther at the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­ter in the Yizhou Jail, not through a win­dow, but over video. Ev­ery month, Liu and his fa­ther have an op­por­tu­nity to chat with each other on­line for half an hour.

Af­ter the chat re­quest was ap­proved, his 81-year-old fa­ther only needed to walk for sev­eral min­utes to the lo­cal ju­di­cial of­fice. He is al­lowed to con­duct the chat from there.

“My fa­ther isn’t in good health. It used to be very trou­ble­some for him to travel for sev­eral hours to come to see me,” Liu told chi­nanews. com. Liu was sen­tenced to 10 and a half years be­hind bars for the crime of swin­dling.

Now with the help of the on­line vis­its, his fa­ther can chat with him by walk­ing a short dis­tance. In ad­di­tion, the vis­its are not as emo­tion­ally drain­ing for his fa­ther.

So far, Sichuan Yizhou Prison has es­tab­lished over 190 on­line visit cen­ters in ru­ral ar­eas, such as Luzhou, Liang­shan Yi Au­ton­o­mous Pre­fec­ture and Garze Ti­betan Au­ton­o­mous Pre­fec­ture.

In ad­di­tion to the on­line vis­its, the cen­ter also pro­vides teach­ing, prac­ti­cal train­ing and le­gal ser­vices to pris­on­ers.

The cen­ter con­tains mock ups of banks and govern­ment coun­ters rep­re­sent­ing the so­cial in­sur­ance sys­tem, med­i­cal in­sur­ance sys­tem and civil ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Pris­on­ers learn how to buy train tick­ets from a vend­ing ma­chine, how to do on­line check-in for flights, how to use an ATM and how to use a sub­way card swip­ing ma­chine. They can regis­ter ac­counts on Taobao, China’s largest on­line shop­ping web­site, and try the sim­u­lated use of the Ali­pay pay­ment ser­vice and WeChat so­cial me­dia plat­form.

“Some pris­on­ers ac­cept crim­i­nal pun­ish­ment and lose their free­dom in jail for over a dozen years. Af­ter be­ing re­leased from prison, they find it hard to get used to the fast-de­vel­op­ing so­ci­ety,” Wang Aixia, the deputy di­rec­tor of the cen­ter at Yizhou Prison, told chi­nanews.com.

Wang added that with the help of the train­ing, the pris­on­ers can be ready to ap­ply for a new ID card, start up a busi­ness or buy train tick­ets on their own.

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