Case Story I – IBJ Helps Courts Deliver Appropriate Juvenile Justice
Despite the political sensitivity in China, IBJ has been able to develop close working relationships with local governments, especially within the field of juvenile justice.
Beginning in 2008, IBJ has forged a strong working relationship with the Public Prosecution Department in the Xincheng District Prosecutor’s Office. The fruits of this cooperation are demonstrated in a case from Xincheng District in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province in 2010. Hu Xia – the Director of the Department – requested IBJs assistance in a robbery case involving six juvenile offenders.
IBJ recruited 12 student volunteers from the Criminal Clinic of the Northwestern University of Political Science and Law (NWUPL) to investigate and produce biographical and social reports for the juveniles involved. The student volunteers conducted very thorough investigations that included information about the juveniles’ family, economic, and educational backgrounds, as well as any prior criminal records.
Both the Vice-Chief Prosecutor and judges from the Juvenile Court responded favorably to the reports and considered them useful in determining whether or not to prosecute each juvenile, and whether or not they should be granted bail.
As a result, two of the juveniles were not prosecuted, and the prosecutor recommended that two others be given suspended sentences. IBJ’s interventions help to guarantee the fairness and equality of the criminal justice system in China, and ensure that juveniles are given sufficient protection and opportunities to build productive lives.
Case Story II -A Young Life Turned Away from Crime
Pengpeng was a 17 year old migrant worker from rural China working in a car garage in Xi’an.
While cleaning a car with his colleague he stole 2100RMB (about $330 USD) from a wallet found on the driver’s seat. He confessed to the crime and three colleagues testified that they had seen him commit the theft.
As a result of IBJ’s Duty Lawyer Project, IBJ’s partners immediately informed IBJ of Pengpeng’s case following his arrest. After reviewing the case file and evidence, and following an interview with Pengpeng, the duty lawyer determined that there was indeed ample evidence to convict Pengpeng. According to Chinese Criminal law, he would face a sentence of 6-12 months imprisonment.
However, having been educated by IBJ on the protection of juveniles in the criminal justice system, the duty lawyer investigated Pengpeng’s social background. He discovered that Pengpeng had been forced to drop out of school as his family relied on him financially.
While Pengpeng admitted to the theft, the duty lawyer worked to find an alternative sentence so that Pengpeng could continue to work and support his family. With Pengpeng’s cooperation, the victims recovered the stolen funds, and while the Prosecutor was concerned about the possibility that Pengpeng might reoffend, the duty lawyer helped Pengpeng to write a letter of apology and also agreed to help supervise her client for a 6-month probationary period. The Prosecutor accepted this request.
Thanks to the hard work of the IBJ trained duty lawyer, Pengpeng was released from detention without being prosecuted. He successfully completed the probation period, and has since found a new job as a security guard. Pengpang has learned his lesson and today is a law-abiding citizen providing for his family.