Leaking roofs, unsafe water: The poor condition of Kenya's prisons

Kamiti Maximum Prison perimeter wall. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

A recent Auditor General report revealed deplorable living conditions in various prisons across the country.

According to Auditor General Nancy Gathungu’s report for Fiscal Year 2021/22, a lack of adequate budget provision may lead to further deterioration of prisons.

The report shows that the Nairobi Medium Security and Nairobi Remand Prisons are in poor condition.

It was noted that the Nairobi Medium Security Prison has insufficient office space for staff. The Officer in Charge (OIC), the general office, and the accounts office all have offices in the prison.

The report revealed that the floors to the prisoners’ wards are dilapidated, with rough floors, potholes, and dirty marks on the walls, and that some sections of the roof leak when it rains.

 Auditor General Nancy Gathungu. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

The prison lacked an adequate budget for building repairs and maintenance, the purchase of generators, and the installation of CCTV cameras to monitor activities within the prisons. “In the circumstances,” the report stated, “a lack of adequate budget provision may lead to further deterioration of prison assets and inefficient service delivery.”

Further examination of auditable records and an audit verification conducted in October 2022 revealed that Migori GK Prison housed approximately 700 inmates and employed 230 people.

According to the report, the main source of water for the prison is a seasonal unprotected well located within the institution and roof catchment with storage reservoirs.

Last year, public health and NEMA inspectors found that the available source of water for drinking and general use did not meet national safety standards.
Furthermore, the prison lacks adequate safeguards for wastewater management.

“Under these conditions, inmates, staff, and the community may be exposed to contagious and other water-borne diseases,” the Auditor General said.

Physical inspection at various sampled correctional facilities revealed abandoned projects at different levels of completion in nine correctional facilities with contracts sum and payments to date of Sh116,655,736 and Sh21,889,077, respectively.

Inmates at Nairobi Remand Prison. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Due to a lack of adequate budgetary allocation, the auditor said, it was not possible to confirm that the projects would be completed in time to deliver the intended services and value for money.

During the year under review, the Homa Bay Prison management failed, on several occasions, to produce offenders to various courts within Homa Bay County when required due to the existing official transport challenges whereby the prison had one vehicle only to serve seven courts.

The Auditor General said failure to produce offenders in court frustrates the fair administration of justice and denies the offenders their constitutional rights to defend themselves in court.

She questioned a Sh20 million budget by State Department for Correctional Services spent to construct a perimeter wall at Busia GK Prison.