Computerized Sentencing Software, a Not-so-Bright Future – Guangzhou Daily

 Dy C 2007-10-19 U2240P1T1D14118282F21Dt20071019080651Translated by CDT from Guangzhou Daily:

Zhao Yanguang (˵µÂª∑ÂÖâ) was, and still is, a professor at the law school of Wuhan University. He has devoted most of his adult life to researching what sentences to give to criminals based on the severity of their crime. And he himself didn’t know why he picked this subject, only saying that no one was doing it right after the Cultural Revolution.

And recently, Wuhan University announced, Prof. Zhao has developed a computerized software that will help courts around the country to standardize the terms of sentence based on degree of crimes. He has spent 1.3 million of his own and his family members’ cash for this pet project of his over many years. He only sold 300,000 yuan for his product. But unfortunately, the programmers who worked with him on this project had a dispute with him over the revenue sharing and hauled away all the computers without leaving any piece of the program.

But more sadly than that, Zhao himself has doubt that his program, or more exactly his idea, will be widely adopted in China’s judicial system, even though Shandong’s Zibo City (Ê∑ÑÂçöÂ∏Ç) has tried computerized sentencing since 2003 and has documented superb results in delivering . Over the period of this practice, the Zichuan district (Ê∑ÑÂ∑ùÂå∫) courts used this system to hear 1,500 cases and no one appealed about any of the verdict. Across the country, appeal rate has always been as high as 60%, and half of these are a result of unfair verdicts.

Zhao admitted that he was indeed trying to make a profit out of his project in the software. But he more wanted to disseminate his concept of standardized sentencing, given China’s excessive freedom with judges and consequential widespread . Sadly, he’s pessimistic about his own idea becoming popular among Chinese courts. [Full Text in Chinese]

[Image: Prof. Zhao Yanguang, via sina.com.cn]

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