Tech 7 September 2018

Dan Taylor

Chinese city tracks ex-convicts on parole with blockchain

The Chinese city of Zhongshan has turned to blockchain to devise a system of tracking ex-convicts on parole, in what is being described locally as an exciting innovation for community correction.

According to local media reports, the city’s justice department has said the system will allow the movements of ex-offenders to be tracked on their release, and has already been demonstrated successfully at several pilot community service centers ahead of a city-wide rollout.

The scheme requires ex-offenders to check in each day, as well as completing several daily tasks as part of the rehabilitation process. The blockchain application allows for better recording and sharing of data relevant to specific ex-cons and their movements, the justice department said.

Both community correction and law enforcement staff will have access to information recorded on the blockchain in real time, and the system will identify at a glance whenever a set parole routine has been breached.

The justice department claims the system will make parole services more efficient, reducing the time it takes by automating several currently manual processes, as well as reducing the need for parole officers to personally follow service users around as the reintegrate within the community.

By making information more readily accessible between different departments and agencies, the hope is that communication and information sharing will also become both more effective and more efficient as a result of the technology.

If proven successful, the model is likely to have wider appeal, with law enforcement agencies throughout China keen on developing blockchain solutions for improving the efficiency and performance of justice.

While notoriously restrictive on cryptocurrencies and ICOs, authorities in China are increasingly turning to blockchain technology to improve public administration.

The parole use case is the latest example of this in practice, following steps taken in other Chinese cities to integrate blockchain technology within justice and the wider legal system.

The city of Shenzhen is working with internet giants Tencent to develop a blockchain platform for tackling tax evasion, while a court in Hangzhou previously ruled that blockchain submissions were an acceptable medium for evidence deposition.

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