In China, The Rich Hire Body Doubles to Serve Their Prison Time

If you thought the U.S. legal system was corrupt, you need to read this. A recent piece in Slate reveals the process by which China’s rich and powerful time and again avoid serving their prison sentences: hiring body doubles to do it for them. Geoffrey Sant explains this phenomenon, which was first brought to public attention when a wealthy 20-year-old who killed a pedestrian while drag racing in Hangzhou, China in 2009 received only three years in prison, while many drunk drivers receive the death penalty for similar crimes. In addition to the unusually lenient sentence, many suspect that the man who drove the car is not the same man who went to court and served out the prison sentence. Sant writes,

The practice of hiring “body doubles” or “stand-ins” is well-documented by official Chinese media. In 2009, a hospital president who caused a deadly traffic accident hired an employee’s father to “confess” and serve as his stand-in. A company chairman is currently charged with allegedly arranging criminal substitutes for the executives of two other companies. In another case, after hitting and killing a motorcyclist, a man driving without a license hired a substitute for roughly $8,000. The owner of a demolition company that illegally demolished a home earlier this year hired a destitute man, who made his living scavenging in the rubble of razed homes, and promised him $31 for each day the “body double” spent in jail. In China, the practice is so common that there is even a term for it: ding zui. Ding means “substitute,” and zui means “crime”; in other words, “substitute criminal.”

The root of China’s corruption lies in its disparate wealth distribution. According to Sant, the top 0.1% controls over half of the nation’s wealth—far more than that group does in the United States, where the top 1% controls around 40% of wealth. Those with money are then so disproportionately wealthy and powerful that they can essentially buy their way out of serving time for their crimes by hiring body doubles for meager sums. Sant writes,

“America has the rule of law, but China has the rule of people,” the police officer told me. “If somebody is powerful, there’s a good chance they can make this happen. Spend some money and remain free.”

While the masses sacrifice personal freedom for economic prosperity, China’s elites can have their cake and eat it too with near impunity.


“Double Jeopardy,” Geoffrey Sant, Slate

  • RickWalter

    It’s easier to do in China because they all look the same! Just kidding, don’t get all weird now, but seriously, they all do have black hair. Their eyes are the same color. Their features are very much the same. Well, I guess I was right! I said don’t go there!

  • bran_deditems

    This is an injustice. I hope the guilty will be put in jail instead of the dummy. God sees everyone and we can’t escape heaven’s justice.

Commentary Ticker

  • Google Glass Lets You Take Photos With Your Brain
    July 12, 2014 | 4:02 pm

    If you haven’t heard, electroencephalograms (EEGs) have been getting better. Way better. Artificial limbs and even video game controllers are utilizing the non-invasive brain-wave monitoring method to guide computers by thought. Now English startup This Place has developed a way to bring the technology to Google Glass, allowing Google’s wearable to read your mind. Well, […]

  • Android Art: The Accidental Selfies of Google Art Project
    July 5, 2014 | 11:11 am

    Within the cultural centers of the world lurks a mechanical beast draped in silver spinning madly and capturing everything, sometimes even itself. In 2011 Google created the Art Project, an initiative to bring their Street View technology inside the cultural epicenters of the world. Google enlisted 17 world-class museums in short time. Institutions such as […]

  • Purple Mountunes Majesty: The Most Patriotic Playlist
    July 4, 2014 | 12:13 pm

    A while ago, Paul Lamere of The Echo Nest, a music-analysis company, took to finding each state’s most distinctive, yet popular, artist in a viral article. Spotify took note, purchasing Echo Nest for their analytical talent. Together, they’ve released a blog post documenting each state’s most distinctively American song creating a patriotic playlist for the […]

  • Emojinealogy: Where the Heck Emojis Come From
    July 2, 2014 | 3:10 pm

    On June 16th, the Unicode Consortium announced that 250 new emoji would be added to the list of symbols available to people’s cellphones and computer devices. The list of the new symbols can be found on Emojipedia. And no, the list doesn’t include the much needed minority representation, but it does include your favorite (?) […]

  • The Decline and Fall of the American Mall
    June 24, 2014 | 9:07 pm

    For ages, the shopping mall was as essential to the architecture of suburbia as Levittowns and freeways. But in an era of online shopping, these epicenters of brick and mortar yesteryear are quietly being abandoned across the country. While the U.S. currently has around 1,500, the number may soon shrink, and rapidly, leading to abandoned […]

  • RSSArchive for Commentary Ticker »

Join our mailing list!

Trending on The Airspace