Govt to free 5000 petty offenders in a move aimed at decongesting prisons-CS Matiangi

Govt to free 5000 petty offenders in a move aimed at decongesting prisons-CS Matiangi

BY KORIR JUMA,NAIROBI,28TH APRIL,2022-Nearly 5,000 petty offenders are set to be released from prison in a decongestion program between the Judiciary and Prisons Services.

According to Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi, the planned release that will begin next month will run in tandem with the expansion of probation and after-service program targeting the reintegration of the offenders.

Speaking at the launch of training program for newly recruited probation officers at the Kenya School of Government, the CS said prisons were struggling with congestion that has been exacerbated by too many petty offenders among the inmates.

“We don’t have the resources to keep the number of offenders that we have. Some of them we are keeping because of Sh600 fine for traffic offence! We are keeping some matatu violator who packed on a yellow line. Are we serious?” he posed.

“I hope in the next phase of the decongestion campaign between May and June, we will get out about 5000 or so of petty offenders so that we can move them into the probation service program.”

Justice Cecilia Githua who chairs the Community Service Order National Committee that coordinates the probation services said since January this year, 3,000 inmates had been released from prisons to serve in community service.

The prisons will release another 4,620 petty offenders beginning May to decongest the current population of 53, 438 prisoners.

Of the number, 30,689 are convicts while 22,799 are inmates.

The Interior CS stated that the government will also mobilize chiefs and Assistant County Commissioners and the National Government Administration structure to
work closely with probation officers in the prisoners’ integration program.

The Government will also reach out to religious leaders and the relevant faith-based institutions to complement prisoners’ integration efforts and to tap into their network of after-service programs. Dr Matiangi raised concerns with the high levels of recidivism among convicts and challenged probation officers to monitor offenders closely to ensure that they don’t relapse.

“A second time and third time and fourth term offenders are evidence that our
after-care work is not very successful. The character of success in this work
will be demonstrated by a reduction of repeat offenders amongst us and how
active the after-care members become in their societies and how well they
become integrated,” Matiangi stated.

One thousand probation officers are to be hired and trained in a program jointly
funded by the government, the European Union and the United Nations Office in
Nairobi. Already 600 officers have been recruited with a half of them already

They will join the 860 officers already in the service. Under the Community Service Orders Act, petty offenders and those with three or less years remaining in their sentences can be committed to community service.

This may include providing labour in construction and maintenance of roads,
environmental conservation activities and maintenance work in public schools
and hospitals among others. The offer for release to community service however
does not apply to prisoners serving capital offences, sexual, economic or
drug-related crimes.

Currently, the prisons are holding 6,073 petty offenders while 955 others have less than three years remaining to serve.


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