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Chinese ‘smart prison’ uses blockchain to cut corruption and abuse

The official Xinhua Daily in Jiangsu announced that the Ministry of Justice praised the blockchain-supported smart prison system utilised in 21 prisons in the province, recommending that the idea be promoted to the country’s more than 600 prisons. Blockchain technology has been used in jail management for parole, commutation, and prisoner assessments.

According to the research, the provincial jail authority’s platform contains over 800 functions and approximately 1,200 procedures in order to give a one-stop solution for inmate assessment, punishment, and incentives. “The entire law enforcement process by police will leave internet records, and 100% of the cases may be traced [to every step],” it stated.

The system in charge of commutation and parole, for example, is linked to the courts and the prosecutor’s office so that the entire process can be completed online, according to the article. The public will be able to view commutation and parole approvals on the Jiangsu prison management authority’s official website, as well as the province’s public administration information website.

Corruption and abuse instances in China’s jails, which contain around 1.8 million inmates and employ 300,000 guards, elicit widespread public outrage, and Beijing has been attempting to eliminate unjustifiable commutations and paroles.

Blockchain is a distributed database in which all participants synchronise and share information. Because the data is not owned by a single authority, the decentralised design makes it transparent and tamper-resistant, potentially reducing corruption and abuse in prisons.

Blockchain was referenced for the first time in China’s national five-year plan, which covers the next half-decade and beyond, in March of this year. According to the official document, blockchain is one of the “new digital businesses” that should be “cultivated and grown” under the plan and the Vision 2035 growth strategy.

In China, the technology has been applied in a variety of administrative applications. During the Covid-19 pandemic last year, for example, the southern Chinese province of Guangdong and the neighbouring special administrative area of Macau created a blockchain-powered mutually recognised QR health code system. Some Guangdong government entities began issuing blockchain-powered invoices in 2019.

Xiong’an New Area, a future city project just outside Beijing endorsed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, started a city-level blockchain system in December 2020 to issue and record relocation compensation, migrant worker salaries, and building material purchases.