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Over 14,000 prisoners released to decongest prisons

By Antony Gitonga | April 22nd 2021

PS Correctional Services Zeinab Hussein with Chief Administrative Secretary, Interior Winnie Guchu (C) join Commissioner General of Prisons Wycliffe Ogalo during a tour of Naivasha GK prison. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The government has released over 14,000 inmates as part of the ongoing program to decongest prisons in the wake of an upsurge in Covid-19 cases.

Plans are underway to release more from the jails with the department of correctional services working with the Judiciary and the Ministry of Health in containing the spread of the virus.

There are over 40,000 inmates in the country’s prison against a capacity of 30,000.

Already, seven staff and another seven inmates from different prisons across the country have died of Covid-19 related complications.

This came as the prison department ruled out vaccinating the inmates in the country under the ongoing vaccination program.

According to the Correctional Services Principal Secretary Zeinab Hussein, they had placed all the necessary measures in place to deal with the third wave which had claimed tens of lives.

Speaking after visiting Naivasha GK prison, Zeinab admitted that congestion was an issue but was quick to note that this had been addressed.

“Since the pandemic was first reported in the country, we have released over 14,000 inmates as part of decongesting prisons in line with Health Ministry directives,” she said.

The PS added that they were working with the Judiciary in further releasing more inmates who were about to finish their term or were serving time for petty offences.

“A new judge has been appointed to deal with the matter of decongesting prisons,” she said.

She, at the same time, noted that staff and their personnel had received the AstraZeneca vaccine as part of dealing with the pandemic.

“We have vaccinated over 8,000 staff and at the moment there are no plans to vaccinate the inmates,” she said.

On his part, Commissioner General of Prisons Wycliffe Ogalo said that containment measures had been put in place in all prisons. He said that they had enough PPEs, sanitizers, water points in the prisons and face masks.

“The prisoners are responsible for their safety and well-being and we are making sure that they have observed all the health protocols within the prisons,” he said.

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