[photopress:scaredstraight.gif,full,alignright]Seems the authorities in China have taken a chapter from the disciplinary book of my home state, New Jersey, in adopting their own version of the "Scared Straight" program. Rather than bringing juvenile delinquents into prisons to see hardened criminals serving life sentences, however, China is bringing the wives of newly appointed government leaders to visit convicted embezzlers and grafters. The Shanghai Daily reports on 19 wives of recently installed Party chiefs and local mayors who were brought to Hunan Women’s prison to see convicted wives of corrupt officials now serving hard time.
Luo Jiaguang, deputy secretary of the municipal Party committee for disciplinary [sic], organized the tour. "The 19 men now have more power than at any other time in their lives," Luo said. "Experience tells us that quite a number of them may come under investigation by our office. The tour for their spouses serves as a warning to the women to be ‘virtuous helpers’ and not bad instigators."
My emphasis. Has anyone seen such a blunt statement from a Chinese government official before? I love it. The women are being targeted because apparently lots of corrupt leaders have active assistance from their families, including spouses and children. But these 19 ladies were a bit insulted by the tour – one felt she was not being trusted by the government her husband was employed to serve – but most of them changed their minds after listening to the tearful tirade of one of the imprisoned women. "The visit is in fact a show of concern and care for us," one of them said. "I’ve learned that wives have an important role in keeping their husbands out of corruption."
No word from the article on whether the inmates, in their description of daily prison life, included "exaggerated stories of rape and murder" as did the thugs in New Jersey prisons when trying to scare American youngers back on the straight and narrow.