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The Compelling IdealThought Reform and the Prison in China, 1901-1956$
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Jan Kiely

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780300185942

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300185942.001.0001

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A Mechanism for All Offenses: The Nationalist Expansion of the Reformation Regime, 1927–1937

A Mechanism for All Offenses: The Nationalist Expansion of the Reformation Regime, 1927–1937

Chapter:
(p.161) 5 A Mechanism for All Offenses: The Nationalist Expansion of the Reformation Regime, 1927–1937
Source:
The Compelling Ideal
Author(s):

Jan Kiely

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300185942.003.0006

This chapter concerns the KMT party-state's expansion of the system of penal reformation and its extension beyond prisons in support of state-building agendas to attain legal-penal modernity, reorder urban society, eradicate the drug problem, and suppress the Communist insurgency. In the 1930s, the sustained mass incarceration of drug and political offenders destabilized prisons and undermined the reformative ideal. But this also brought an impetus to prison reform, expansion, the planning of rural labor camps, and the spread of the reformation system to new specialized carceral institutions for drug and political offenders. The new institutions adapted KMT versions of Soviet techniques of party-training and political indoctrination for settings modeled on the existing institutional patterns of penal reformation. Tensions between prison officers and party cadres were minimized through a coalescence around the reformative ideal and its value to their shared sense of paternalistic duty to reform talented “youths” for the nation. By the mid-1930s, party activists, mainly internal security agents, led the political prisons known as self-examination institutes and were promoting their politicized reformation to the prisons and for broader social use just as a wider convergence developed between penal reformation and state programs for national political training and civic-moral suasion.

Keywords:   Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) state, penal reformation, drug offenders, political offenders, political indoctrination, self-examination institutes

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