China’s Prisons Offer Online Shopping Service, Reach 400,000 Orders After 4 Months

Aarav - Jun 11, 2019, 3:51 pm IST

South China's Guangdong province on Wednesday announced the opening of China's first online shopping platform for inmates in prison.

On Wednesday, June 5th, China’s Guangdong province introduced its online shopping platform for prisoners.

Since January, Conghua Prison has been selected as a pilot to test out this platform by the Guangdong Prison Administrative Bureau. From January to April, prisoners have made over 13,000 orders for more than 400,000 different items with no complaints about the product quality or quality-related returns.

At Conghua prison, online shopping terminals are installed on each floor at a building. These terminals are where prisoners can shop for 200 products in 68 different categories, from daily necessities, nonstaple foods, school supplies to cigarettes and gifts.

Prisoners are waiting for their turns to use the online shopping platform.

By allowing inmates to shop, the variety of goods increases 60 percent over the offline market.

New Express reported that prisoners need to log in to their online shopping account using their fingerprints or passwords.

The products offered on the platform have quite reasonable prices: a 500ml bottle of Coca-Cola costs 25.10 INR, a pair of shoes sells for 391.60 INR.

Not too far from the shopping terminals are refrigerators where prisoners can keep their cold beverages with their names written on the lids.

The most popular items among inmates are nonstaple foods like milk, meat, Laoganma hot sauce, and instant noodles, as well as cigarettes.

There are over 200 products in 68 different categories to choose from.

The prison’s regulations state that no prisoner is allowed to shop more often than once a month, with 15 minutes for each shopping. To save time, there is a printed shopping list for prisoners to look at before they make their decisions.

The amount of money spent by one prisoner for online shopping is estimated to be around 3012.27 INR.

In the past, prisoners need to write down what they want to buy and hand it to the officers. The shopping which used to take a whole month of waiting now takes several days.

According to a 52-year-old inmate named Zhang, he hadn’t shopped online before. But everything has changed.

“At first, I couldn't operate the platform, so I just avoided using it. However, with the help of the police and other prisoners, gradually I got familiar with it. This will help me better adapt to society later on after I get out of prison," he said.