State Correctional Department releases over 7000 petty offenders

By - Jan 1st 1970
The State Department for Correctional Services has made a major milestone in the ongoing prison decongestion program by releasing up to 7,281 petty offenders by March 2023.   In an update on the status of correctional facilities in the country, the Principal Secretary in the department, Mary Muthoni, acknowledged that the congestion in most prisons in the country poses safety and security challenges for both prison authorities and inmates, further indicating that the freed inmates are engaging in community service nationwide.
PS Mary Muthoni.
According to the PS, over 250 probationers and inmates have received adequate facilitation in educational support from the program with the state department helping them obtain their grade test certification. Further, the department has ensured that they have put in mechanisms to ensure that the freed individuals are engaged in community service to help them re-integrate back into their communities and become self-dependent. “The objective of this initiative is to give these individuals a second chance and enable them to comfortably reintegrate into society,” she said. Inmates are involved in resource-oriented vocational rehabilitation programs such as masonry, tailoring, agriculture, and free primary and secondary education which are critical to enable them earn a living after serving time. CS Muthoni also underscored that the department is, in fact, keen on averting an influx of inmates in prisons by exploring alternative dispute-resolution mechanisms to ensure petty offenders do not end up in jail. “We will continue to engage with county governments, private sector entities, church organizations, and individuals to ensure that we decongest our prisons,” she said.   Petty offenders who often find it difficult to raise their cash bail or pay the alternative fines imposed by courts specifically comprise the majority of the inmates in Kenya’s prison system. The high number of inmates in prisons consequently poses a challenge for the department which finds it hard in meeting the basic needs of the inmates. In line with this, the National Correctional Service policy is being reviewed to enhance the provision of its reform agenda aimed at improving the living conditions for inmates by the introduction of the one-inmate, one blanket, one-bed drive, having already distributed bedding for inmates which have been donated by various stakeholders and human rights organizations. She confirmed this while distributing 2,000 bedding at the Naivasha maximum prison while accompanied by the president of the International Cure on Human Rights, Mr Charles Sullivan. According to prison statistics, as of January 2023, the national prison population stood at 58,887 against the prison’s capacity of 34,000. In 2020, the country released several inmates ranging from petty offenders, those serving short terms and long-serving offenders who had less than 6 months or less to complete their terms to prevent overcrowding as a means to curtail the spread of coronavirus in the country.
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