Ruth Kamande became a brainy in jail, trained as a paralegal
Every story written about Ruth Kamande says the same thing: that she has been convicted of murder and has been crowned a beauty queen.
But what most people do not know is that Kamande is also a trained auxiliary paralegal and has used these skills to help her fellow inmates navigate the complex judicial system that often throws them into the deep end of court proceedings without a lawyer to guide them.
As a result, many are imprisoned for cases that they could easily win had they had the appropriate legal representation.
Kamande is a beneficiary of a programme run by the African Prisons Project, a charity organisation active in Kenya and Uganda, which “brings dignity and hope to prison communities in Africa” through transferring of useful skills to prisoners and prison wardens.
“I am in a good position to draft cross-examination questions, defences, submissions and even mitigations,” Kamande writes in a testimonial on the APP website.
And using these skills, she has helped some inmates secure their freedom.
Mr John Muthuri, the legal aid manager at APP who trained Kamande as a paralegal, has only good things to say about her.
‘A GOOD PARALEGAL’
“Ruth is a good paralegal and we are happy with her work. She has been able to build the confidence of her peers, assisting them to argue their cases successfully for bail and bond,” he told the Nation.
The APP programme currently operates in eight prisons in Kenya, and so successful has been its paralegal programme that some prisoners who have gone through it have represented themselves in court and successfully overturned previous convictions.
According to APP, although the law provides the right to a lawyer, 80 per cent of accused people who go through the court system in Kenya do so without any legal representation. This inadvertently leads to a high rate of imprisonment.