Source: (2004) Northwestern University Law Review. 98: 991-1104.

As Randall Peerenboom writes, the use and abuse of various forms of administrative detention in the People’s Republic of China have come under heavy criticism. In consequence, many legal scholars and human rights activists have recommended that China eliminate all or at least some of these forms of administrative detention. Peerenboom argues in contrast that, while reforms are clearly needed, it is necessary to think through far more carefully the likely effects of elimination all forms of detention. In this case, well-intentioned reforms would likely prove impractical and perhaps even counter-productive. Peerenboom contends for the need to consider the purposes of administrative detention in China and the particular problems that have arisen in each of its forms in order to decide whether eliminating detention will help or hurt those currently subjected to it. Additionally, Peerenboom considers the question of what, if anything, the many serious problems in the criminal law and administrative detention systems reveal about legal reforms in China and about efforts to institute some form of rule of law.