President Ruto orders urgent development of Prisons Masterplan

President William Ruto (left) during the pass-out parade of cadets at Ruiru Prison Staff Training College on April 24, 2023. [Edward Mabele/PSC, Standard]

President William Ruto has instructed the Cabinet Secretaries for Interior and Public Works to urgently develop a Prisons Masterplan which will be used to identify and develop new prison sites.

President Ruto said that this will solve the problem of overcrowding in our prisons, free up land in urban centres for critical public services and provide more space to accommodate the prison population and training facilities.

The President said it was important for the consideration of alternatives to imprisonment for relatively minor sentences urging the Judiciary to provide leadership in this matter and the Attorney-General to initiate necessary engagements in this respect

“More than 10,000 prisoners are serving three years sentences and below with 41 per cent of the prison population awaiting trial for bailable offences, all these people need not be incarcerated, it is important for stakeholders in the justice system to implement alternative dispute resolution,” said Dr Ruto.

Ruto said that correctional services are a vital function of the penal and national security framework tasked with custody and rehabilitation of offenders in a manner that both the public as well as inmates enjoy their rights, dignity, explore opportunities and aspirations lawfully, safely and peacefully.

He said that the Kenya Prison Service has now embraced correctional best practices and aligned its policies, procedures and standards with the Constitution and our development agenda with a paradigm shift from punishment and retribution to rehabilitation and correction opening up novel possibilities with positive implications on the development agenda.

 “The rehabilitation and correction framework focuses on reform, re-direction as well as empowerment of prisoners for effective social participation, to reduce a prisoner’s likelihood of returning to antisocial conduct and increase their capacity for gainful activity, correctional services now impart knowledge, skills and training in various arts and craft,” said Dr Ruto.

The President said that many correctional institutions have huge tracts of land that should be put to full use and join the government in fulfilling the food sufficiency pledge with these institutions have duly been instructed to enhance productivity and increase incomes.

Ruto said that under the affordable housing commitment, the government has set out to create millions of jobs throughout the building industry, construction projects, extraction and preparation of building materials as well as the fabrication and installation of fixtures, fittings and other accessories.

The President said that under the micro-, small and medium-size enterprises pillar, the government has embarked on the financial, capacity and other forms of empowerment for entrepreneurs to innovate, incubate and curate business ideas into the next generation and to profitably engage in enterprise in various sectors at different scales.

“I am delighted to note that the Kenya Prisons Service has placed emphasis in educating and training prisoners in various aspects of agriculture, including irrigation and mechanised farming and that he was happy to see the magnificent handicraft and other items produced by skilled prisoners under the auspices of the Prisons Enterprises,” said Dr Ruto.

The President commended the planting of 443,025 trees in prisons institutions across the country with this number excluding 2,010 trees planted under Community Service Order Afforestation Programme, 5,000 trees planted at the Kianjuki-ini Forest in Kirinyaga County and the Marmanet Forest initiative which aims to plant an additional 100,000 trees.

Ruto applauded the State Department for producing varieties of seedlings for different ecological areas, authorizing the Cabinet Secretaries responsible for the Environment and Interior to effectively coordinate to ensure efficient up-take of the seedlings so that none overgrows in the nurseries.

The President said that he had considered the various fields in which the Kenya Prison Service trains prisoners and noted with great satisfaction that they align with the government’s commitments under the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda.