Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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Penal System
(1,809 words)

On December 29, 1994, the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People's Congress passed the People's Republic of China Prison Law. For the first time in its post-revolution history, the system of penal detention and correction in China was collectively referred to as a prison system. Certainly, prisons had been mentioned before this, but then the term invariably referred to the older prison buildings in cities that were an inheritance from the pre-Communist government. The penal system, up until 1994, was referred to collectively as the "reform through labor" system (laogai).


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Dutton, Michael, “Penal System”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 01 October 2023 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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