International Centre for Prison Studies

A partner of the University of Essex

China

CountryChina
Ministry responsible
Ministry of Justice (sentenced prisoners), Ministry of Public Security (pre-trial detainees and persons in administrative detention)
Prison administration
Prison Administration Bureau (MoJ)
Contact address
No.10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Beijing 100020, China (MoJ)
Telephone
+86 10 6520 6258 or 6213 (MoJ)
Fax
+86 10 6520 5866 or 5239 (MoJ)
Email
interdiv.moj@263.net.cn
Head of prison administration (and title)
Shao Lei (MoJ)
Director-General
Prison population total (including pre-trial detainees / remand prisoners)
1 701 344
at mid-2013 (Ministry of Justice - sentenced prisoners in Ministry of Justice prisons only, excluding pre-trial detainees and those held in administrative detention). The Deputy Procurator-General of the Supreme People's Procuratorate reported in 2009 that, in addition to the sentenced prisoners, more than 650,000 were held in detention centres In China. If this was still correct in mid-2013 the total prison population in China was more than 2,350,000.
Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
124
based on an estimated national population of 1.37 billion at mid-2013 (from United Nations figures) - sentenced prisoners in Ministry of Justice prisons only. (A total prison population of 2,350,000 would raise the prison population rate to 172 per 100,000.)
Pre-trial detainees / remand prisoners (percentage of prison population)
The total number of pre-trial detainees/remand prisoners may be about 250,000 in 2013. This is based on a 2014 report of the Supreme People's Procuratorate and an estimate of three months for the average length of pre-trial detention, not including time awaiting the result of appeals (Xiaowei Zhang in 'Pre-trial detention', van Kempen (editor), International Penal and Penitentiary Foundation, volume 44, 2012).
Female prisoners (percentage of prison population)
5.9%
(of sentenced prisoners in Ministry of Justice prisons, mid-2013)
Juveniles / minors / young prisoners incl. definition (percentage of prison population)
1.4%
(of sentenced prisoners in Ministry of Justice prisons, 31.12.2005)
Foreign prisoners (percentage of prison population)
0.4%
(of sentenced prisoners in Ministry of Justice prisons, mid-2013)
Number of establishments / institutions
The Ministry of Justice holds sentenced prisoners in more than 700 prisons. In addition, there are some 30 jails for juveniles. The Chinese government reported in 2009 that there were also 320 re-education-through-labour camps but it is now reported that these have been closed. The number of pre-trial detention institutions and of special administrative detention facilities for drug offenders and prostitutes is not known.
Occupancy level (based on official capacity)
Not known.
Recent prison population trend
(year, prison population total, prison population rate)
1995 1,320,947 109
1998 1,440,000 115
2001 1,428,126 112
2004 1,583,006 122
2007 1,642,215 124
2010 1,650,000 123
1995 1,320,947 109
1998 1,440,000 115
2001 1,428,126 112
2004 1,583,006 122
2007 1,642,215 124
2010 1,650,000 123

Female prison population: trend

The table below gives an indication of the trend in the female prison population. The final row shows the latest figures available.

It consists of the number of female prisoners in the prison population on a single date in the year (or the annual average) and the percentage of the total prison population that female prisoners constituted on that day. 

The final column shows the female prison population rate per 100,000 of the national population.

                                                      CHINA

Year

Number of
female
prisoners

Percentage
of total
prison population

Female prison
population rate
(per 100,000 of
national population)

2000

2005

2010

47,100

77,279

84,600

3.3%

4.9%

5.1%

3.7

5.9

6.3

2013

100,584

5.9%

7.4

The number of female prisoners fluctuates and so the above figures give an indication of the trend but the picture is inevitably incomplete.

The female prison population rate is calculated on the basis of the national population total. All national population figures are inevitably estimates but the estimates used in the World Prison Brief are based on official national figures, United Nations figures or figures from other recognised international authorities.

(If the rate were calculated on the basis of the number of females in the national population it would of course be approximately double the figure in the final column).

The information/assessments that follow are not those of ICPS. The source is indicated below each entry. Please use the link provided to access the original document. 

Prison conditions

Prison conditions

Conditions in penal institutions for both political prisoners and criminal offenders were generally harsh and often degrading.

Forced labor remained a serious problem in penal institutions. Many prisoners and detainees in penal and RTL facilities were required to work, often with no remuneration.

Prisoners and detainees were regularly held in overcrowded conditions with poor sanitation. Food often was inadequate and of poor quality, and many detainees relied on supplemental food, medicines, and warm clothing provided by relatives. Prisoners often reported sleeping on the floor because there were no beds or bedding. Adequate, timely medical care for prisoners remained a serious problem, despite official assurances that prisoners have the right to prompt medical treatment.

The law mandates that a prison shall be ventilated, allow for natural light, and be clean and warm. The law further provides that a prison “shall set up medical, living, and sanitary facilities and institute regulations on the life and sanitation of prisoners.” It also states that the medical and health care of prisoners shall be put into the public health and epidemic prevention program of the area in which the prison is located. However, in many cases provisions for sanitation, ventilation, heating, lighting, basic and emergency medical care, and access to potable water were inadequate.

Read more:

US State Department Human Rights Country Report 2012

http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2012&dlid=204193

Pages

PDF

A Human Rights Approach to Prison Management: Handbook for Prison Staff. Second Edition. Chinese version.

Core Publications
A Human Rights Approach to Prison Management: Handbook for Prison Staff
29/07/2013
Author: 
Andrew Coyle
Countries: 
PDF

Guidance Notes on Prison Reform (Chinese version)

Core Publications
Guidance Notes
01/01/2005
Author: 
ICPS
Countries: 
PDF

A Human Rights Approach to Prison Management: Handbook for Prison Staff. First edition. Chinese Version

Core Publications
A Human Rights Approach to Prison Management: Handbook for Prison Staff
02/07/2002
Author: 
Andrew Coyle
Countries: 
Prison population total
Prison population rate