China’s Death Penalty: The Supreme People’s Court, the Suspended Death Sentence and the Politics of Penal Reform

By Susan Trevaskes / British Journal of Criminology, on 1 January 2013

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 some homicide cases. Lower court judges are encouraged 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. The study explored these guidance instruments as a way of deepening the understanding of how law, politics and judicial practices are interwoven to achieve reform goals.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list China
  • Themes list Death Penalty, Country/Regional profiles,