Hong Kong prisons--preparing to leave as soon as you enter.

Author:Hill, Gary

The United Kingdom occupied the main island of Hong Kong in 1841 and ceded it to China in 1842 (Central Intelligence Agency, 2011). As a result of an agreement signed by China and the UK on Dec. 19, 1984, Hong Kong was formally named the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) by the People's Republic of China On July 1, 1997. The agreement held that China's socialist economic system would not be imposed on Hong King and that the region would be generally autonomous in all matters except foreign and defense until 2047. According to the CIA World Factbook. as of July 2010. Hong Kong had an estimated 7.089,705 citizens, with a median age of just more than 42. an average life expectancy of nearly 82 years and a literacy rate of 93.5 percent.

Hong Kong's Correctional System and Philosophy

The prison administration is under the Hong Kong SAR government and is named the Corrections Services Department (CSD). CSD. with an inmate population of 10,137 as of June 30. 2010. operates 25 facilities, including 15 prisons, three drug treatment centers, one training center, one detention center, four rehabilitation centers and one psychiatric center. The rated capacity of the prison system is 1 1.152. putting the system at 89 percent of capacity. The prison population rate in mid-2010 was 144 per 100.000 inmates in the population. which is down from 157 in 2007. The total number of inmates is also down from nearly 13.000 in 1995 and 12,705 in 2004. Fifteen percent of the inmates are pretrial. 20 percent are female. 3.5 percent are juveniles younger than 18, and nearly 30 percent are considered foreigners--including individuals from mainland China (International Centre for Prison Studies. 2010).

Since 1982. CSD has undergone major philosophical transformations, including changing its name from the Prisons Department and moving from the traditional custodial service to a program of inmate rehabilitation. During the period of transformation, the department's Vision. Mission and Values statement has been changed several times. In May 2010. the statement included, "CSD is to he an internationally acclaimed Correctional Service helping Hong Kong to be one of the safest cities in the world." The refined mission is to: "Protect and reduce crime by providing a secure, safe, humane, decent and healthy environment for people in custody, providing opportunities for rehabilitation of offenders, and working in collaboration with the community and other agencies."

The rehabilitative role expressed in the Vision, Mission and Values statement is given life when an offender is admitted to a correctional institution. CSD personnel immediately begin to help the individual with welfare and personal needs, help him or her adjust from civilian life to life in a correctional environment, establish programs to address the person's offending behavior and begin to prepare him or her for reintegration into society.

Rehabilitation and Reintegration

It is important to note that CSD refers to all inmates being released as rehabilitated offenders. For example, in a presentation to the International Corrections and Prison Association (ICPA) in October 2010. Chief Officer Tze-ting Lau said, "Between May 2009 and April 2010. a total of 381 rehabilitated persons were released from institutions after completing prerelease vocational training." He went on to mention that 299 voluntarily received follow-up employment service offered by the Society of Rehabilitation and Crime Prevention (SRACP). Furthermore. he pointed out that 82.6 percent were employed within six months after release.

CSD provides welfare and counseling services to offenders as soon as they are...

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