Called bang-jiao, it works to rehabilitate juveniles with a community group of parents, friends, relatives and representatives from the neighborhood committee and the police station. Formal rehabilitation is pursued in either a work-study school for juveniles or a juvenile reformatory. The emphasis for both is education and light or labor work (Ibid., 155-156).
China officially banned capital punishment for youth who were under 18 at the time of committing the capital crime in a 1997 amendment of its Criminal Code. However, the country has since executed two-18-year-olds, one in 2003 and one in 2004.
Recent news reports from China report that rates of juvenile crime continue to surge yearly. In 2007, juvenile crime was reported as increasing 13% annually since 2000 (China Daily 2007). The major provinces of Guangdong and Shanghai report huge increases in vagrant youth and orphan populations (Wenfang, May 5, 2010; Hongyi, July 7, 2009). These increases result from migrants who continue to move into urban areas from farms looking for work. The youth of these families are often left unattended or even abandoned. A state body reported one million street children in 2009 (Jia, April 9, 2009). One response has been to allow the children of migrant workers to attend schools without the usual fees applied to 'non-natives'(Wei, May 25, 2010). The State has responded with such measures as erasing juvenile criminal records and commiting billions to a fund for building welfare and community service shelter facilities for vagrant youth in all prefectures (Chuanjiao, March 26, 2009; "Welfare of children"). In 2008, the Supreme People's court sent a delegation abroad to study juvenile justice (Dui Hua).
Retributive justice indicates that for justice to be served, the offender must be punished in proportion to the severity of crime committed. The concept of restoration, Wenzel et al. explain, implies a period of deliberation that allows both the victim and the offender, as well to go through processes of healing (Wenzel et al. 2008, 377). The offender must accept accountability and make some form of recompensation or repair of the wrongdoing that was committed and the victim in some way is able to offer forgiveness as their resentment is overcome (Ibid.). The offender is made to re-endorse the shared community values which their act had violated (Ibid., 381). Wenzel et al. make the significant point that the sharing of a common identity perhaps best defines an application of a retributive or restorative notion of justice. If the offender and the victim share a common social identity then both can accept the normal processes of validating the values underlying that identity.
Schaible and Hughes (2011) draw a version of restorative justice under their concept of reintegrative shaming theory (RST). In their study of cross-national crime they measure levels of communitarianism and informal stigmatization across different cultures to rate the effectiveness of the RST version of restorative justice. Their conclusion identified some effectiveness with such factors as modernity and sex ratios, among others, but, importantly, not with the factor of economic inequality.
Robbins (2005) in his study discusses how the practice of zero tolerance in the American school system has shattered concepts of equality. He draws upon the inequality of the criminal justice system to underline his position. In a prison population that rose to over two million between 1980 and 1994, African-Americans who made up 12% of the population, accounted for nearly 50% of those infirmed (Robbins, 3). As regards zero tolerance, Twomey observes that such punitive actions have actually been shown to "hurt school safety and school discipline in the long-term" (Twomey, 2005, 806). Twomey's study argues that children in juvenile detention have a constitutional right to an adequate and meaningful education. Although the primary focus of the juvenile justice system is on rehabilitation, she describes how the punitive aspects of the process have greatly limited the welfare of the infirmed juvenile population. This population, in 2003, was 85% male of which 58% were minority black and Hispanic and 70% showed learning disabilities (Twomey, 770-771). In several ways these authors demonstrate how there is a sense in which American social identity is constrained and limited across racial-social groups and does not readily offer a needed communitarian platform.
The Chinese criminal justice system cannot be compared to the American criminal justice system without understanding the complex makeup of America's social ethnic fabric. The Chinese authorities seek to re-establish traditional principles which in strong ways reflect views of restorative justice. Although the citizenry may share a common social identity, their major challenges appear to be the widening gap of economic well-being and adjusting to the needs of a large migrant population.
America does have a common social fabric. But it is unique such that there are power and sharing relationships that have worked to both offset and sustain levels of inequality. Yet America shares with China a continuing concern with and efforts toward improvements in its juvenile justice system. Greenwood demonstrates this in his study. Reporting less success with the boot camp punitive methods, he discusses evidence-based success for family-based, community programs and cognitive-behavior therapy for youth in institutions. These efforts can be seen as substantiation of restorative justice principles.
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Schaible, Lonnie M. And Lorine a. Hughes. 2011. Crime, shame, reintegration, and cross-national homicide: A partial test of reintegrative shaming theory. The Sociological Quarterly 52:104-131.
Twomey, Katherine. 2008. The right to education in juvenile detention under state constitutions. Virginia Law Review 94(3):765-811.