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Prison warder feted for campaign to keep students off drugs, crime

National
 Senior Superintendent George Odera at Nakuru GK Prisons. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

A prison warder leading the drive to keep school children off drugs and crime has won the annual correctional services award.

Senior Superintendent George Odera won the Distinguished Outstanding Services, Kenya Prison Service Award. He received the award last week during the Annual Correctional Services Awards 2023 ceremony in Nairobi.

Odera, the Chief Security Officer of Nakuru GK Prisons, has been carrying out voluntary programmes in schools across the country to educate students on the dangers of crime.

Speaking to The Standard, he said the award came as a surprise. Odera who has been in the service for 16 years said he has been visiting schools to discourage learners from committing crime.

“I have visited over 400 schools and talked to over 100,000 students to discourage them from crime. I am happy and thank God for the award,” he said.

The prison warder revealed that he has been using his resources and was happy that he has finally been recognized.

Odera who was enlisted into the service in 2006 said that he was taken aback after he noticed that many inmates were young.

He befriended the inmates and learned that many committed crimes out of peer pressure.

“Some of the prisoners openly said if someone could have talked to them earlier they could not have landed in prison. That’s when I chose to start visiting schools,” he said.

Born and raised in Kaloleni slums in Nairobi, Odera said he stayed away from crime or drugs.

His uncle who was in the military made him aspire to join the disciplined forces.

“The environment I grew up in positively shaped my thinking. I saw my friends killed and others engaged in crime and ended up in jail. That is why I urge children to avoid peer pressure,” he said.

Odera who holds a Bachelor's degree and Master’s in Business Administration from a University in India, said he mostly visits schools during weekends and while on leave.

SSP Doreen Anabaka received the best rehabilitation and services award in Kenya Prisons Services. SP John Kanyamuok of Mombasa Remand received the overall correctional services award for the best-performing officer in charge of Kenya prisons.

Kanyamuok promotes holistic rehabilitation and reintegration services.

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