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Visiting Scholar Wu Zongxian Meets with Representatives from New Haven Community Corrections Program

On November 15, the China Law Center organized a workshop on community corrections involving Dr. Wu Zongxian, Professor of Law at the College of Criminal Law Science at Beijing Normal University and a visiting scholar at the China Law Center, and Project MORE, a leading community corrections program in New Haven, Connecticut.  Representatives from Project MORE included Covel Rogers, Director of the Alternative to Incarceration Program; Addys Castillo, Assistant Director of the Alternative to Incarceration Program; and Catherine Rubiano, a case worker specializing in youth offenders.  Dr. Wu and the Project MORE representatives discussed issues related to establishing and managing community corrections programs in China and the United States.

The Chinese government is beginning to experiment with alternatives to incarceration, including a range of community-based programs that would ensure sufficient supervision of persons convicted of crimes and released into the community while also providing them with counseling, job training, substance abuse treatment, and other needed services.  In developing these innovative experiments, Chinese reformers are looking to other countries, especially the United States, for relevant experience and expertise, particularly with regard to issues such as the type of offender most suitable for these alternatives; assessment of risk to the community; appropriate mechanisms of supervision in the community; and the types of support personnel that are necessary for the success of such programs.

The discussion touched upon the various aspects involved in founding a community corrections organization, including the training of personnel; the assessment of clients’ probability of re-offense; and the complex relationship between the community corrections organizations, the state, and the community at large.  Project MORE representatives emphasized that given the political nature of crime and punishment, cultivating a healthy relationship between the management of a community corrections program and actors in the political system is vital to the success of the organization.  The representatives also underscored the importance of empathy and a humanistic approach when treating offenders.

Upon returning to China, Dr. Wu plans to issue recommendations for further developing community corrections institutions in China.