First, there was the case of “hide and seek.” Then there was the “nightmare” and the “shower case.” As the improbable explanations for deaths of prisoners in China’s criminal justice system grows, so have the doubts of legal experts and average citizens alike. The government has pledged open investigations into the deaths, but critics question its will to change the infamously opaque system. Beijing has launched a training program to improve the conditions of the country’s jails, but legal experts argue that deeper reforms are needed to stem the violence.
Meanwhile, the number of victims is also growing. In the past three months, 15 cases of suspicious deaths in China’s jails have been reported. An official with the with Supreme People’s Procuratorate told the state-run Xinhua news service that seven detainees had been beaten to death, three committed suicide, two died in accidents and three cases were under investigation.