Warders deserve better pay, decent housing

Reports that officers supposed to lead rehabilitation of convicted criminals are living in abject poverty and appalling conditions must gnaw at the heart of every Kenyan. The prison warders are in near worse conditions than the individuals jailed for wrongdoing.

They have been housed in single rooms demarcated by carton boxes and torn bed sheets, despite having young families. What is more disappointing is the fact that the reports are not anything new. Prison warders have complained to authorities on many platforms but their pleas have more often than not, fallen on deaf ears.

When the Government and stakeholders talk of reforms in the Police Service, living conditions and officers’ housing must be given top priority. Lately, we have had police officers engaged in tragic love triangles where some have either killed their colleagues or committed suicide. The incidents cannot be de-linked from the dehumanising conditions the corrective officers find themselves in.

Still, prison warders have been accused of laxity, occasionally allowing dangerous criminals escape from prison, letting in contrabands into prisons and facilitating mobile phone fraudsters. With the appalling living standards, the temptation to look the other way and get some small money could be overwhelming for the prison warders.

This makes a case for urgent improvement of their housing even as we demand better management of the corrective facilities. Just a little sense of dignity could do, seeing that some officers join the force voluntarily to help make a difference to the society.