China’s Death Penalty: The Supreme People’s Court, the Suspended Death Sentence and the Politics of Penal Reform
This paper examines the issue of judicial discretion and the role of the Supreme People's Court (SPC) in death penalty reform since 2007. The SPC has been encouraging judges to give 'suspended' death sentences rather than 'immediate execution' for many crimes. This process entails encouraging judges to use their discretion to recognize mitigating circumstances that would allow them to sentence offenders to a suspended death sentence The SPC has used 'guidance' instruments which include 'directives' and other SPC interpretations and a new 'case guidance' system which provides case exemplars to follow. We explore these guidance instruments as a way of deepening our understanding of how law, politics and judicial practice is interwoven to achieve reform goals.
British Journal of Criminology