China: Xiuyun Shang

Transforming one more person means some more peace for society. This will benefit generations today and in the future. I must commit all my strength and my heart.

— Xiuyun Shang

Shang Xiuyun (62) is a communist party member and Deputy Presiding Judge of the second court in the People’s Court of Haidian District, Beijing. Known as ‘Mother Judge’, she has transformed a large number of juvenile delinquents, encouraging them to study and take part in ordinary activities.

Shang Xiuyun is deputy presiding judge of the second court in the People’s Court of Haidian District, Beijing, in charge of juvenile delinquent cases. Shang remembers the case of a quiet and gentle looking girl who, because of peer influence, became a thief. She could hardly believe that this pretty, quiet child, much the same age as her own daughter, was a hardened thief. She felt a responsibility towards her and had several meetings with the girl and her father, encouraging the family to give the girl their support and encouragement. In September 1987, Haidian District had an increasing number of young offenders and decided to set up special juvenile courts so as to have greater flexibility in enforcing the law, meting out punishment and implementing preventive measures. Shang was one of the first judges appointed in these courts. Despite an initial lack of experience and a lack of understanding from the public, Shang pushed ahead with a strong sense of responsibility. In these years, she seldom stopped working. Whatever the weather, she would be in her office long after office hours. She would often work on the bus home and though well-meaning colleagues would try to dissuade her, she would respond with a smile of gratitude, saying quietly, “I am used to this.” In this way, ‘Mother Judge' gave her love to the juvenile delinquents. She is convinced that all criminals can be transformed. Not one of the 710 cases (1300 defendants) presided by her over the last 17 years has been ordered for retrial. Twelve of ‘her children’ have managed to go to key state universities such as Tsinghua and Peking.

People’s Court of Haidian District, Beijing