Deferred detention can lead to education

By Lee Chia-tung aP

Wednesday, Apr 23, 2003,Page 8

In the past, I always believed it best not have anything to do with prosecutors, but recently I had a very pleasant experience dealing with a few young prosecutors.

They work at the Yunlin District Prosecutors' Office. They told me that if an individual commits a relatively slight offense, the prosecutor can suspend an indictment. Under newly amended regulations, prosecutors can demand that the person whose indictment has been suspended may pay specified sums of money to public welfare groups. They believe children of low-income families urgently need help, but many children have been facing problems with their education because of Taiwan's economic doldrums.

In cooperation with the prosecutors, Yunlin County's Bureau of Education has set up an account called the Relief Stipend Fund for Elementary and High School Students in Yunlin County. Part of the money demanded by prosecutors from those who have their indictments suspended will go to that account. The person concerned may specify the purpose of the money he or she remits.

I was truly moved by Yunlin County's prosecutors. They are not only concerned about crime but also about disadvantaged groups.

I call on the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Justice to set up a joint team to promote the use of money from people who have their indictments suspended to help children of low-income families so that they won't have problems while acquiring their education.

The simplest way would be to adopt Yunlin County's model, which involves the local education bureau setting up a dedicated account, as well as rules for implementation and a supervisory mechanism.

The money in such accounts should be used exclusively to benefit students from low-income families at elementary and high schools, to cover their tuition fees, lunch fees and health insurance expenses, and other costs. If Yunlin County can do it, why can't other counties and cities?


Lee Chia-tung is a professor at National Chi-nan University.

Translated by Francis Huang
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