150 rogue prison officers from across Kenya dismissed

More than 150 prison officers have been dismissed in the last three years for smuggling cellphones to inmates, Commissioner of Prisons Isaiah Osugo has said.

Osugo said the Prisons Department is strict on contraband within the prison walls, adding that the officers are often trained and warned on allowing the prisoners' access to illegal items.

He pointed out that though the use of mobile phones was a problem; the vice has reduced over the years, with the most notorious prisons being Kamiti Maximum, Eldoret and Nyeri prisons.

Prisons Deputy commissioner David Macharia (left) gives promotion badges to Nicholas Maswai who was promoted to the rank of Senior Assistant commissioner of Prisons (SACP) who is the officer in charge of Manyani maximum security prison,this came in recognition after winning an award in Huduma Ombudsman award 2015 as the officer who steered infrastructure transformation of prisons facilities on 2/9/15. (PHOTO: BEVERLYNE MUSILI/ STANDARD)

"The use of phones in prisons has reduced over the years and though there are genuine cases of prisoners who want to get in touch with their families, others just want the mobile phones to extort Kenyans," he said.

Osugo was speaking yesterday as he announced the promotion of Nicholas Maswai from the rank of Senior Superintendent of Prisons to that of Senior Assistant Commissioner of Prisons. "We take matters of contraband very seriously and our officers are often warned against helping the prisoners' access them. Some have been dismissed in the past for getting involved,"he said.

The commissioner said inmates have been forming groups such as 'Crime si Poa' to encourage each other on why they should stay away from crime, a move he said is supported by the Prisons Department.

In the past, the department has partnered with mobile phone companies such as Safaricom to help fight the phone menace in prisons. In 2011, Safaricom and the Kenya Prisons Service signed an MoU that was intended to have mobile phone jamming equipment to block fraudulent calls and M-Pesa transactions within prisons installed.