Chinese jail trains prisoners to use social media, online shopping
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.