Chinese prisoners buy pets, alcohol

2011-10-26 14:03

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Shanghai - Guards at a jail in northern China sold luxuries including pure-breed dogs, spirits and mobile phones to inmates, state media said on Wednesday.

An investigation into the jail in Hebei province found guards were supplementing their income by selling pets and bottles of the Chinese spirit baiju at high prices, Shanghai's Oriental Morning Post said.

Access to prison keys was poorly supervised and some inmates even had copies, said another newspaper, the Shanghai Daily.

The lax security and perks enjoyed by the inmates only emerged after an inmate who was serving 10 years for robbery escaped in September, it said.

The jailbreak sparked a massive manhunt involving hundreds of police before he was captured two weeks later, and prompted the government to investigate the jail, which has more than 3 000 inmates.

Guards were found to have sold a plethora of banned items including cellphones for surfing the internet, alcohol and even, according to one report, chow chows, a popular Chinese breed of dog.

Some officials blamed ageing infrastructure at the 40-year-old prison in Shenzhou city, which had poorly-constructed walls and unstable power supply, causing its electrified fence to periodically shut off.

The government has pledged to shut down the prison and move inmates to a new facility under construction nearby. Authorities have sacked the warden and arrested two guards.
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