Blockchain, the decentralized digital ledger, is mostly known as the technology behind bitcoin, however, it can essentially be used for any tracking or transactional purpose. Zhongshan, a Chinese city south of the Pearl River Delta, are using blockchain technology to track convicts on parole. The justice department explained that the blockchain platform will “monitor the movements of ex-prisoners to improve the quality of so-called “community correction””.
Blockchain technology permits users to keep secure and transparent information, which is difficult to reverse once it has been added to the ledger’s records. Once information is added to a blockchain, other users need to confirm the transaction, and once a set number of blocks have been added the block cannot be deleted. This creates a permanent record that cannot be tampered with. The government in Zhongshan is utilizing this technology to “provide up-to-date data on each convict’s movements around the clock.” So far, multiple community service centers have employed the technology to track the actions of parolees.
Although the process seems invasive, using blockchain technology to record the actions of parolees is meant to minimize the burden on law enforcement. Traditionally, parolees are physically followed to monitor their behavior and confirm they are abiding by the law and carrying out their community service work. The use of blockchain technology is replacing the need to physically follow parolees and instead creates a digital footprint of their actions. The information collected is on a private blockchain and only accessible to law enforcement and correction facility employees.
Zhongshan is not the only city taking advantage of the benefits of blockchain technology. In the city of Hangzhou, China, a Chinese judge of the Hangzhou Internet Court ruled that “evidence authenticated with blockchain technology can be presented in legal disputes.” This court was established to hear cases regarding intellectual property in relation to the internet, therefore, it is not surprising that the judge embraced the idea of permitting the use of blockchain technology, despite its complex nature. Another Chinese city, Shenzhen, has partnered with the internet company Tencent to implement a blockchain platform to combat tax evasion and modernize the tax system to make it more efficient.
Zhao, W. (Sept. 6, 2018) “Chinese City is Using Blockchain to Track Convicts on Parole.” Coindesk. Available at: https://www.coindesk.com/chinese-city-is-using-blockchain-to-track-convicts-on-parole/. Accessed on Sept. 8, 2018.
 Zhao, W. (June 28, 2018) “Blockchain Can Legally Authenticate Evidence, Chinese Judge Rules.” Coindesk. Available at: https://www.coindesk.com/blockchain-can-legally-authenticate-evidence-chinese-judge-rules/. Accessed on Sept. 8 2018.
 Sundararajan, S. (May 25, 2018) “Chinese City to Use Blockchain in Fight Against Tax Evasion.” Coindesk. Available at: https://www.coindesk.com/tencent-partners-with-city-authority-to-combat-tax-evasion-with-blockchain/. Accessed on Sept. 8, 2018.