Government seeks to decongest prisons
The government has announced plans to decongest correctional facilities in the country amid concerns most of them are hosting far more than the required number of inmates.
Correctional Services Principal Secretary Salome Beasco-Muhia stressed that the move to decongest prisons was aimed at improving the living conditions of inmates.
He explained that a large population of inmates in the prisons comprised of petty offenders who can be placed under non-custodial sentences to reduce congestion.
The PS further noted that nearly 50 percent of those serving at correctional facilities are petty offenders.
She appealed to the judiciary to expedite the hearing of cases and delivery of judgment for the petty offenders to decongest the correctional facilities.
“We are hoping our collaborations with the judiciary will bear fruits soon. We are encouraging our judiciary to expedite hearing and judgment of petty offenders,” said the PS.
She made the remarks during a familiarization tour in Kapsabet GK Prisons, Nandi County.
She was accompanied by area government officials.
Ms Muhia appealed to the judiciary to upscale the issuance of Probation Orders and Community Service Orders to reduce the congestion in the country.
“We are also encouraging the judiciary to review bail-out applications for petty offences such as drunkenness or petty thieves who can serve their sentences outside there,” said the PS.
The government has in the recent past faced challenges managing the numbers of inmates at correctional facilities amid reports of poor quality food and services offered therein.
In July 2023, the government released 23,000 petty offenders in different correctional facilities in a move to ensure the inmates and prison staff live in a conducive environment.
Muhia said at the time that the department plans to further review the sentences of an additional 5,000 inmates to attain its target of releasing over 35,000 prisoners by the end of 2023.
Some 7,281 petty offenders had been released by March 2023.
“I’m urging all other development partners to come on board to support the prisons decongestion program to ensure that prisoners live a dignified life in line with articles 28 and 43 of the constitution which demands that every person should live in dignity,” she stated at the time.
The PS added that the government would also tap on the available 135 probation and Aftercare stations across the nation to push the judiciary to put offenders with petty offenses under community service.
The problem of overcrowding with some penal institutions holding double the expected capacity has been regarded as a contributing factor to poor prison conditions in the country.
The challenge has posed a management crisis making it difficult to sustain the inmates with basic needs like food, medical care, and sanitation facilities.