President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery and the Commissioner of Prisons, Gen Isaiah Osugo, to liaise with the chief justice and fast-track the release of petty offenders to decongest prisons and reduce government spending on them.
“The situation in prisons is costing us, we need to reduce that congestion. Those being remanded for minor offences should be released,” said the President on Tuesday during a passing-out parade for more than 2,600 recruits at Kenya Prisons Staff Training College in Ruiru.
The trainees received nine months of training at the college alongside others who took certificate and diploma course in security and correctional science from Kenyatta University.
He urged them to ensure that the basic human rights of prisoners are upheld.
“Remember those you guard are Kenyans just like you and me, show them the negativity of their actions and also restoration of hope,” he said.
President Kenyatta said his government was committed towards improving prison staff welfare through an established multi-agency taskforce that was appointed to review the situation of all prisons and make recommendations.
“We have established an insurance cover that also caters for the new trainees,” he added. He said the budget would be assessed to improve prison staff housing conditions.
He said significant steps have been taken with the National Counter Terrorism Centre to improve training curriculum for staff and rehabilitation for inmates.
To reduce crime, stem radicalisation and ensure security in the country, the President said prisons are required to offer retributive justice and the prospect of reform.
“Our justice system exists not just to punish offenders or to deter possible offenders from doing wrong; it exists also to encourage those who have done wrong to change, and to once more contribute meaningfully to society,” the President said. Gen Osugo said this was the largest number of trainees who have graduated from the college since its inception. 728 were women.
He also announced that prisons will be recruiting the Makonde people who recently become citizens.
Gen Osugo also offered to have prison officers engaged in peace maintenance as the country heads to the General Election.
“We are ready to join other security agencies in maintaining peace during the August 8 election.
Our officers are well skilled and ready to perform any task assigned to them,” he said.