Chinese Prison Uses Fake Mini City to Help Longtime Inmates Adjust to Modern Life

In an attempt to make long-term inmates more comfortable with modern technology, a Chinese prison has built a fake mini city within its walls. Located in Beijing, the prison campus features a small supermarket, internet café, and even a fake subway station!

These structures are meant for inmates who have spent the last 20 years locked up and have no idea of the developments that have taken place outside during this time. “The project aims to give a micro view of the new society that now exists,” said guard Liang Chiu. “Prisoners were very often finding it difficult to adjust to life outside and now they are being taught how bank cards work, mobile phones and even computers, which most of them would have had no experience with before they ended up being jailed.”


With this initiative, Liang said that the prison is hoping to reduce the risk of people returning to a life of crime just because they are unable to integrate into society. Inmates begin the orientation course three months before their expected release date, during which time they are taught various skills, from purchasing vegetables to using a bank card.

According to social worker Zhu Guanghua who is a part of the project, the prison guards pretend to be bank workers or supermarket cashiers. Zhu revealed that the initiative started after a former inmate had committed suicide. “The prisoner was astonished to find that credit cards could be used to pay bills in a supermarket, and was so out of touch that it caused friction with his wife and ultimately a divorce, quickly followed by the fact that he was unsuitable for employment anywhere because of his lack of basic understanding of many things. A short while after he committed suicide,” Zhu said.


Zhang Min, a prisoner of 15 years, said that he found it quite difficult to use the computer. He couldn’t even fathom why anyone would use it to read the news, when they could simply read a newspaper. Officers are quite worried that Zhang might face difficulty in using smartphones once he is released, given that prisoners aren’t allowed to even use the most basic cell phones. Hopefully, the new training program will allow prisoners like Zhang to feel somewhat at home in the outside world.


Source: China Daily

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