China: Empirical Research & Criminal Justice Policy Reform

From 2008 to 2012 Professor Christopher Stone collaborated with scholars in China who are leading a new generation of practical experiments in criminal justice reform. While the attention of many observers in the West has focused on the criminal prosecution of high-profile political and commercial cases, these scholars were focused on criminal procedure in ordinary cases. These scholars include some of the most influential in Chinese criminal procedure, including the distinguished professor who drafted the last criminal procedure law adopted in 1996.

Specifically, these scholars and their partners in the police, procuracy, legal aid departments, and courts, worked in five separate teams, each pursuing a distinct experimental project in anticipation of the 2007 criminal procedure reform. The five experiments intervened at different stages of the criminal justice process. Together, these projects pursued reform all across the system. Thanks to a generous grant from the Ford Foundation, Professor Stone and the Justice Systems Workshop worked with these five teams in the planning and analysis of the projects.

In October 2008, senior scholars from the five projects assembled at the Harvard Kennedy School for a Seminar on Empirical Approaches to Criminal Procedure Reform in China. This was followed in April 2009 by a workshop for junior scholars on Criminal Justice and Empirical Theory at Harvard. In October 2009 the Program in Criminal Justice met again with the junior and senior scholars, this time in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.


Additional Resources

See Five Typical Cases of Death Penalty Review in China by Christopher Stone, as published in the Legal Daily (August 30, 2009).

As part of this project work the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management (PCJ) produced an update on news and developments in Chinese justice. The China Justice News Update (CJNU) covered Chinese language press reports on justice institutions such as the police, prosecution, courts, and prisons, important social issues such as juvenile offending and migration, and controversial legal topics such as plea bargaining and the death penalty. Each update focused in depth on at least one issue and provides synopses of major articles on other topics.


Featured Research

5 Typical Cases of Death Penalty Review in China


Published in the Legal Daily, August 30, 2009