Good News For Prisoners as Govt Announces Plan to Ease Prison Overcrowding

August 11, 2023

Salome Wairimu, the Principal Secretary for Correctional Services, has announced plans to alleviate prison overcrowding nationwide, aiming to enhance the inmates’ living conditions.

Kenyan prisons are currently accommodating 62,000 inmates, surpassing their designed capacity of 22,000.

Wairimu indicated that nearly half of the current inmate population consists of remandees, who are eligible for release by year-end through leniency measures.

Those slated for release will primarily include individuals imprisoned for minor offenses, as well as inmates – even those with lengthy sentences – who can exhibit tangible evidence of their reformation.

Furthermore, Wairimu announced that whereas past releases were solely at the discretion of the President, this instance will involve a meticulous assessment conducted by the Power of Mercy Committee.

The PS said they are actively collaborating with the Judiciary and other key players within the justice sector to streamline the process of prison decongestion.

She has advocated for an expansion of Prohibition Services Orders by judicial officers as a viable approach to tackling the issue of overcrowding.

In addition, Wairimu said the implementation of programs such as scaling up Alternative Dispute Mechanism initiatives is part of the broader strategy to decongest Kenyan prisons.

The PS noted that issues such as minor theft, land disputes, and family conflicts can be resolved outside the courtroom, as the department is focused on implementing reforms rather than emphasizing punishment.

Wairimu also announced plans to allow convicts to access higher education through the Open University of Kenya, a virtual university recently inaugurated by President William Ruto.

The Ministry of Education has established an educational division within the prison system, complete with computer facilities and classrooms, the PS said.

The Principal Secretary said the government also intends to reinstate inmate visitation, which had been halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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