The State Department of Correctional Services and the Judiciary have embarked on decongesting the prisons in a process targeting petty offenders and mothers.
Principal Secretary at the Department Mary Muthoni on Monday evening made an impromptu visit of the Nakuru GK Prisons where she said this was aimed at alleviating suffering among children.
“The issue of young innocent children in our prisons is very touching. We are working with the judiciary towards reviewing cases of their mothers for their release,” said Muthoni.
She explained that keeping the young children within the facilities affects their growth and development as normal children would do in a free world.
“As of January 30, 2023, we had ten children at the Nakuru Women Prisons. In facilities across the country, there are about 300 children below the age of 4. This is a very high number,” she said.
She explained that the department was working closely with the judiciary to ensure mothers imprisoned for less serious offences and children in the prisons are released.
“Some mothers didn’t commit capital offences that may keep them in the prisons for a long time. If they are petty offences, we let them go and commit them to community work,” she added.
She added that the Judiciary had made its commitment towards ensuring the overall number of people jailed and committed to remand is reduced.
“Petty offenders should be corrected in a different way other than imprisoning them. Those in remand should not be held for long only for them to be found innocent years later,” she said.
Muthoni noted that holding offenders in the facilities should not be about punishing them but correcting them and releasing them back to the community as better and productive persons.
She said that this was in line with the government’s agenda of ensuring all persons in the productive age bracket are gainfully engaged to aid in nation building activities.
The PS added that the government was working on strengthening alternative forms of justice to ensure petty offences are dealt with at the lowest level possible.
She cited family related issues that can be resolved outside adding that this would go a long way in addressing unnecessary congestion in jail and remands.
The PS added that the government was also working towards improving the welfare of prisoners and prison warders in line with the standards set by the United Nations (UN).
“Even the convicts have a right to a safe environment. They should have proper beddings. Their welfare cannot be detached from that of the prison officers. The officers will be given priority in the government’s affordable housing projects,” said Muthoni.