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Crime and the Chinese Dream$
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Børge Bakken

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9789888208661

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888208661.001.0001

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Tales of Rehabilitation and Realities of Pain

Tales of Rehabilitation and Realities of Pain

The Initiation Ceremonies of Incarceration

(p.96) 5 Tales of Rehabilitation and Realities of Pain
Crime and the Chinese Dream
Vincent Shing Cheng
Hong Kong University Press

Vincent Shing Cheng’s chapter is based on interviews with Chinese former incarcerated drug users, documenting the painful experience of inmates in the laojiao, or ‘reform through education’, detention centres. Instead of ‘rehabilitation’, the detention centre’s brutal treatment seems to echo a general experience of pain and humiliation aimed at socializing and ‘prisonizing’ the new inmates. This combination of informal and formal violence represents a double-edged sword of pain with its own specific rationality in a Chinese philosophy of pain and control. While criminologists suggest that ‘pain’ is counterproductive to offender rehabilitation, the Chinese prison authority has actively used ‘pain to train’ new inmates for the purpose of control. These experiences stand in stark contrast to the official narratives of education. This contradiction has created a system of hypocrisy as counterproductive for the inmates as the ‘pain’ involved in it.

Keywords:   Reform through education, Drug addiction, Inmate population, Rehabilitation, Prisonization, Hypocrisy, Pain as control

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