AG ordered to review sentences slapped on elderly prisoners

80-year old Tom Mungai ( right) and 85-year old Mureithi Ngari are led by a prison warden outside a Nakuru law Court on February 16, 2015. [File, Standard]

Elderly prisoners in different jails in the country might be going home soon.

This is after the Court of Appeal directed Attorney General Justin Muturi to kick-start legislative amendments to facilitate periodic review of sentences for convicts who are over 70 years - to determine whether they should be released or not.

According to Justices Pauline Nywamweya, Jessie Lesiit, and George Odunga, the law should also factor in a review of those who have served sentences that are over 20 years.

The three judges stated that it is unfortunate that the country has no parole system, hence, those who are in their sunset days tend to suffer the most and become a burden to prison authorities and taxpayers.

“Such persons are subjected to the vagaries of harsh prison conditions even when it is clear that their continued stay in prison can no longer be justified under any of the penological grounds and to the contrary, is detrimental to the health of the prisoner and a burden to the prison authorities who have to take care of people who may well be in vegetative state,’’ the bench headed by Justice Nyamweya observed.

The appeal was filed by Mukumbi Subui. The 71-year-old man had been incarcerated in 2009 after being found guilty of defiling a nine-year-old girl. He was handed a life sentence. However, upon appeal before the High Court, Justice Fallah Amin dismissed the case.

At the time, he was 55 years. Aggrieved, he moved to the Court of Appeal arguing that age has taken a toll on him. Subui stated that he can no longer take part in rigorous rehabilitative activities and can no longer compete with youthful offenders for facilities offered by prisons.

Subui pleaded that he should be allowed to spend his sunset years in his home. He however did not challenge the guilt finding.

The DPP opposed the appeal, arguing that the issues he was raising had already been factored in.

The three judges allowed him to go home. They also ordered that the judgment should be passed to AG.

“What has caused us concern is that those who are convicted for either long periods or for indeterminate sentences are left with no possibility of their conditions being reviewed since we do not have a parole system in this country. The age of an accused person is a factor to be considered in sentencing,” the judges observed.