By L.Museka and F.Mwika
According to the Kenya Prisons Service, the total number of persons committed to prison has risen to almost 60,000 inmates against the inbuilt capacity of about 30,000 inmates. 56 percent of this population is of remand inmates awaiting trials.
Speaking during her inaugural visit to Correctional facilities in Kisumu after her appointment, Principal Secretary, State Department for Correctional Services, Ms. Salome Beacco said that the government was working in partnership with the judiciary and development partners to explore ways of decongesting the prisons to ensure the inmates have a dignified life. The various methods include alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, fast tracking of cases, community service orders, and the presidential prerogative on the power of mercy.
She congratulated all newly promoted officers and noted that the promotions had improved staff morale and motivation to service. She further reiterated the department’s commitment to fighting climate change, noting that they have planned to put 20% of prison land under tree cover within the next 5 years.
While donating blankets and hygiene packs to the adult inmates as well as baby clothes for children who are with their mothers at the Kisumu Women’s Prison, Ms. Beacco acknowledged Crime Si Poa’s donation of cleaning detergents and tissue papers to all the 4,000 inmates in the Kisumu Command. The PS called on other stakeholders and partners to come on board to support the department. Crime Si Poa has, in partnership with the Kenya Prisons Service, been undertaking reformation and transformation of persons in conflict with the law through tailored mentorship, entrepreneurship psychoeducation, and spiritual programs. Besides these programs, Crime Si Poa offers paralegal training for both staff and inmates to enable them to address issues related to trials, appeals, and justice more effectively.
Speaking at the event, the Commissioner General of the Kenya Prisons Service, Brigadier (Rtd) John Warioba who was accompanying the PS, called on inmates to maintain a high degree of discipline and take advantage of the training and technical courses offered for free in the prisons. He reiterated that these skills would enhance their marketability in the job market upon release.
In his speech, Crime Si Poa Executive Director Mr. Pete Ouko reiterated that the organization will continue partnering with the department to impact the lives of those in conflict with the law. He further said that Crime Si Poa is purposed to set up a digital skills lab at the Kisumu Medium Prison to build the employability skills of the inmates for seamless reintegration upon release. Crime Si Poa will also initiate paralegal training for inmates and staff at both the Kisumu Women’s Prison as well as the main prison.