By LINAH BENYAWA
KENYA: The Government plans to free about 15,000 inmates across the country to decongest prisons. Those targeted for pardon are prisoners serving jail terms of up to a maximum of three years, who will be committed to community service.
The National Coordinator of the National Community Service Order Committee Lawrence Mugambi announced in Mombasa over the weekend prisons were overcrowded and expensive for the Government to maintain.
“We are planning to reduce the number of inmates by close to 15,000 and put them on community services because the facilities are over-populated, making it difficult for inmates to be rehabilitated for lack of resources,” said Mugambi.
He was speaking in Mombasa when the committee met to come up with strategies that would control population in prisons, which they said were costly to the Government because they spend close to Sh15 million daily.
Mugambi added that the Ministry of Home Affairs was targeting inmates who have been convicted to three years and below, which he said they expect to save a lot of money that could be channelled to other ministries.
“We need to create space. Currently, we have more than 51,000 inmates in all prisons countrywide, which is quite a big number and overwhelming to the Government compared to the resources allocated. We want to see all prisoners well-rehabilitated in a clean environment with enough bedding and foodstuff,” he explained.
He said not everybody who committed an offense must go to prison, adding that they could be rehabilitated at their homes but while performing activities that would benefit the community like maintenance work in schools, unblocking the drainage systems and waterways among other things.
Mugambi also said the committee also came up with a proposal to amend the Prisons Act, which he said had some loop holes that has been a challenge in ensuring the inmates are well-rehabilitated.
“The amendments, we have proposed is determining how the inmates are placed on community services by involving the community because under the current Act, the community is not involved hence making it difficult for the inmates to be integrated back to the society,” he added.