Prison PS's pledge on minors incarcerated with their mothers

Prisons Principal Secretary Mary Muthoni speaks after a meeting with Kenya Prisons directors and regional commanders. [Courtesy, Standard]

Correctional Services PS Mary Muthoni has expressed concern over the welfare of minors who have to live in prison with their incarcerated mothers and said the government is laying out strategies to address their plight.

"The current state of affairs where children are whiling their time in prison alongside their mothers is not sustainable. Besides the stigma they have to live with, they are exposed to all manner of ills, including diseases. We are working with other government agencies to address this," Ms Muthoni said.

The PS spoke at the Ruiru Prison Training College on Thursday where she met Kenya Prisons directors, regional commanders and officers in charge at Prisons Staff Training College. 

"Keeping minors in prison exposes them to many diseases. The stigma of growing up in jail is also damaging to them. That is why we are working hard to address the issue," said Muthoni.

She added: "Minors should grow up in a home environment, surrounded by their relatives and engaged in childhood activities."

Inmates at a prison daycare unveiled by the department of corrections in May 2021. [Muriithi Mugo, Standard]

"I will be working closely with my boss, the Interior Cabinet Secretary Prof Kithure Kindiki, and our Judiciary to find a lasting solution to the and make sure the dignity of the minors is restored."

In the short term, Muthoni said she will work with all players in the criminal justice system to ensure cases involving mothers who have to go to prison with children are fast-tracked.

Early last year, the Standard visited Lang’ata Women's prison and found a thriving daycare for children who have been born at the facility. As they played, their mothers engaged in prison chores, as prison officers kept a close eye on both the children and their mothers

Grace Watiri, was raising a three-year boy at the facility. She said he son had kept asking questions about life outside the prison.

“Raising a child in prison is not easy. Sometimes, he asks me why visitors wear different clothes and not the uniform he’s used to seeing us wearing,” she said.

Purity Waithera, an incarcerated mother of three who was pregnant at the time she was jailed, was worried that her child's growth would be affected by the prison environment.