Comparative Perspectives on Criminal Justice in China
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Comparative Perspectives on Criminal Justice in China

Edited by Mike McConville and Eva Pils

Comparative Perspectives on Criminal Justice in China is an anthology of chapters on the contemporary criminal justice system in mainland China, bringing together the work of recognised scholars from China and around the world.
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Chapter 5: Experimental psychology and criminal justice reform

Thomas Stutsman


Chinese scholarship on criminal justice over the past 30 years has been overwhelmingly theoretical rather than empirical. Zuo (2009) argues that two approaches dominate Chinese criminal procedure scholarship: the comparative approach and the normative approach. Scholars who employ the comparative approach generally look at another country’s criminal justice system to identify differences between that country and China and assess whether China should adopt the foreign practice. Scholars who employ the normative approach use principles or values such as human rights or democracy to evaluate aspects of the Chinese criminal justice system and recommend reforms they believe would better realize these principles or values. Regardless of methodological approach, Chinese scholars rarely systematically collect and analyse data to support their empirical claims about contemporary criminal justice practice or their proposals for reform (Stutsman, 2011, pp. 341–342). But important changes are underway. Chinese scholars increasingly recognize the benefits of social scientific knowledge and empirical research for understanding and reforming the Chinese criminal justice system.

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