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Assessing the possibility of abolition of the progressive system in Taiwan

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  • Publication Data:2018/12



    Progressive treatment system [PTS] refers to that the serving sentence of each prisoner has been divided into four stages by the prison authorities while upon admission. Later on, each prisoner can gradually move forward from the lowest stage (4th stage) to upper stage according to their degrees of improvement on behaviors in prisons and the highest stage is the 1st stage. The purpose of this system is to encourage prisoners modify their behaviors in prison and to rehabilitate well when they reenter the society. It also refers to the “progressive system” or “mark system”. Taiwan (R.O.C.)’s PTS has been implemented over 70 years since 1947. Recently, many prison systems, including PTS, have been criticized by human rights’ groups and academia. They asked and demanded that Agency of Corrections [AOC], Ministry of Justice [MOJ] should do a substantial improvement in prison system, including the consideration of abolishing the PTS. As a result, this research team was contracted by AOC to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of abolishing the PTS.

    By employing literature review (Japan, USA, Germany, Austria and Singapore), abroad visitation study (Japan, Texas in the U.S., and Germany ), focus group discussion (scholars and experts in a total of 8 persons), in-depth interviews (6 correctional staff and 6 inmates), surveyed-questionnaire (24 prisons), and big data (official data) analysis methods, this research will review the current PTS in different correctional institutions, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of this system, and introduce the correctional systems with strengths and weakness from other countries including Japan, the United States (i.e., Texas), Germany, Austria, and Singapore. Specifically, some comparisons in correctional systems between those countries and Taiwan will be explored and highlighted. Some solid and concrete policy suggests in short-term, mid-term, and long-term will be presented to MOJ’s AOC in final.

    This study found that although the PTS has been largely used in the correctional institutions in Taiwan, some of them (such as the drug abuser centers) do not adopt the progressive treatment over the past two decades. The management and treatment served in those institutions operate very well. Secondly, based on the literature review and abroad visitation study, this study found that those developed countries did not employ the PTS as a useful method to control, educate and treat prisoners in prisons. However, they do have a similar system to classify prisoners into different categories based on the security-level, by which the prison authorities can provide different levels of custody, education, privilege, and treatment, etc. to prisoners. Their managerial philosophy in prison is similar to the concept of the PTS adopted in Taiwan. In addition, some good practices in corrections such as the courts in charge of parole decision, good time system, and technology-assisted prison system are introduced fully in this study. From the qualitative research perspective, most scholars and experts tend to abolish the PTS. Some of the prisoners also hold the same opinion. They believe that the PTS has lost the meaning of assisting the inmates to rehabilitate to society. Instead, it becomes a power and a tool for correctional officers to control and manage inmates. Hence, while the PTS should be revised and adjusted based on the human rights’ trend in the world, the vast majority of correctional officers as an advocate believe that this system should be kept rather than be abolished. The results from the surveyed-questionnaire indicated that many prison authorities proposed that Progressive Treatment Code should be amended, specifically, the articles of responsibility scores and performance scores. In terms of results from big data analysis, the higher the levels of stages, the prisoners were more likely to be recidivists after being released, which seems to violate the purpose of the PTS.

    Finally, based on the findings aforementioned, the research team summarized significant conclusions, highlighted unique comparisons and proposed the short-term (e.g., immediately revise some articles regarding prisoners’ privileges in different categories), mid-term (e.g., revise the articles of responsibility scores and performance scores) and long-term (e.g., a consideration of abolishing progressive treatment system) suggestions to AOC as a reference for the future reform in prison.


Keywords: progressive treatment system, corrections, prison, mark system, correctional system, correctional laws


* Full text currently only in traditional Chineses


Source : Agency of Corrections, Ministry of Justice.

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