Nearly 5,000 petty offenders will be released from prison in a decongestion program involving the Judiciary and the Prisons services, the government has announced.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i on Thursday said the planned release will begin next month and will run alongside the expansion of probation and after-service programs targeting the reintegration of the offenders.
“We don’t have the resources to keep the number of offenders that we have. Some of them we are keeping because of a Ksh.600 fine for a traffic offence! We are keeping some matatu violators who parked on a yellow line. Are we serious?” posed the CS.
“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.”
Dr. Matiangi who was speaking at the launch of training program for newly-recruited probation officers at the Kenya School of Government in Nairobi further noted that prisons were struggling with congestion that has been worsened by too many petty offenders, among the inmates.
Also in attendance was Community Service Order National Committee chairperson Justice Cecilia Githua who said since January this year, 3,000 inmates had been released from prisons to serve in community service.
The CS said the government will also invoke chiefs, Assistant County Commissioners, the National Government Administration, religious leaders as well as faith-based institutions to bolster prisoners’ integration efforts.
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.
So far, 600 officers have been recruited with a half of them already trained. 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, prisons across the country hold a population of 53, 438 prisoners, 30,689 of whom are convicted 30,689 are convicts while 22,799 are inmates.
Some 6,073 petty offenders are at the same time held in the facilities while 955 others have less than three years remaining to serve.