GEORGE OLWALO examines the twisted world of delinquents who would rather spend their lives in jail than in society as free men and women
While most inmates stare balefully into space, certain prisoners are happiest behind bars, high-fiving warders and strutting around with full bellies.
To them, there is no better place to gain power, make friends and amass wealth than being inside prison walls. Being fairly clever chaps, they never commit serious crimes that would warrant getting locked up in prisons for eternity. They only engage in petty crimes that earn them short prison terms, with brief ‘holiday’ periods in the outside world.
Under normal circumstances, criminals evade police arrests. But prison joyriders don’t resist the law once they smell law enforcers hunting for them. Some even tell complainants to report them to the police quickest.
Joshua Ouma, 34, a resident of Migori County, served a stint at Kisumu’s Kodiaga GK Prison where he met inmates who were perennially in and out of prison.
“While everybody would mourn about being separated from their loved ones and their projects stalling in their absence, these chaps seemed to gain weight in a prison and grow thin the moment they were released,” recollects Ouma.
The outside world treats such people as worthless, but inside prison, prison joyriders offer lots of invaluable services, especially much needed orientation to new inmates.
“For a fee, depending on the wallet of the new inmates, a prison joyrider can offer both protection and teach you survival tactics, which are crucial for one who finds himself or herself behind bars for the first time,” says Ouma.
Ouma says were it not for the money he paid to a prison joyrider, he would have found the two months he stayed in remand quite chilling. He adds that while majority of citizens consider such perennial prisoners losers and avoid their company, prison warders value the frequent guests of the State and even reward them with responsibilities since they seem to know prison rules and often behave admirably while.
“A prison warder once told me that those who commit petty crimes for the sake of getting locked up are trustworthy and more reliable than first time criminals who would escape at the slightest opportunity,” Ouma reveals.
Timothy Barasa confirms this, saying the petty criminals are so used to the system that they know who is who within a prison facility and also know how to squeeze most benefits from the system and survive.