Prosecutors in Beijing's Chaoyang district are expanding a program to place juveniles suspected of committing minor offenses under probation instead of sending them to courts.
Five young suspects have been exempted from prosecution and will instead be subject to probation periods ranging from six months to a year, the Chaoyang people's procuratorate said on Sept 17.
The five minors were suspected of committing offenses that, if convicted, would put them in jail for no more than a year, the procuratorate said.
The move is part of a pilot program launched in April ahead of the introduction of the revised Criminal Procedure Law, which will take effect in January.
The revision encourages prosecutors to show leniency to juvenile suspects that would possibly receive jail terms of less than a year, if convicted, said Ma Di, director of the juvenile department at the procuratorate.
The Chaoyang project aims to rehabilitate some young offenders through education and community service instead of criminal punishment, said Ma.
Suspects will not be taken to court if they behave well during the probation period that ranges from six months to a year, said prosecutor Yang Lu.
Fu Xiaomei, another prosecutor, said the program aims to give minors a second chance.
In a case she handled, a 17-year-old boy surnamed Liu stole motorcycles valued at more than 3,000 yuan ($475) in April.
"Considering that the theft value was not very high and that Liu was not an adult and bitterly repented what he did, we put him on the project with a six-month probation starting in July," she said.
"We asked the boy to participate in community service and to go to a senior's home to help there," she said.
Similar moves were made even before the program was launched.
In 2011, the Chaoyang procuratorate dealt with 500 juvenile cases. It decided to not to take 29 of them to court but to place the minors under probation.
Out of the 29 people, two are now studying abroad, while another three have achieved high scores in this year's college entry examinations.
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