Kitale Prisons partners with high court and probation department to reduce congestion
Written by Leonard Wamalwa
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The Kitale main prison within the outskirts of Kitale town has partnered with the district probation department and the High court to de-congest the institution.
In a new program under the presidential mercy is done after thorough scrutiny of the convicts who have served a third of their jail term which should also be below three years.
Deputy Officer in charge of the prison Cosmas Maiko told West FM at the prison that the beneficiaries of the program should also be seen to be fit to serve under the community service order -CSO after proving beyond reasonable doubts that they have indeed reformed during the period they have served at the prison.
He said that the names of the prospective inmates to be considered are forwarded to the probation officers who interview them and also manage to go to their respective home areas to conduct more interviews with relatives and people in the community pertaining their behaviors and what might happen if they are released at that period.
"Probation officers have interviewed some prisoners and those who were found to be fit to undergo community service order were recommended to the high court in Kitale for review of their sentences and their sentences have been reviewed and we have therefore, started releasing some of the prisoners who were found fit to serve under the CSO," Maiko said.
The prisons pardon officer William Nyamari who is directly in charge of recommending the prospective inmates perceived to have truly reformed and ready to be released to the community said that the program has been going on since last year with an aim to ease the congestion of the convicts and remandees at the institution that has seen it register more than double the recommended capacity.
Nyamari whose capacity as a pardon officer is under the government gazzetement was introduced recently under the new constitution is the one who monitors the records of all prisoners and their correctional improvements and hence registers those with the best character at all levels whose names are forwarded to be included in the program.
He said that in two days from Tuesday a total of 57 prisoners have been released from the institution to serve under the CSO as others are fully released to go back to freedom.
He said that the prison had forwarded 300 names to the probation department that has done its investigations thoroughly before handing the names to the high court at which the judge considers the probation department's recommendations to determine whether the victims can be released back to freedom or can serve under the CSO program.
According to the pardon officer the program is aimed at reducing congestion at the facility so that the beneficiaries can also work for the community facilities such as schools, hospitals among others instead of working for the government alone inside the prison where they increase the number and occupy space without the community getting any benefit from them.
The Kitale main prison is said to have had a capacity of accommodating between 600 to 700 inmates but the number is now at 1187 almost double the capacity. However before the introduction of the program last year by the then Kitale judge lady justice Martha Koome, the facility had a total of 1600 inmates.
"As we continue releasing prisoners under this program we are continuing to reduce the big number that we have here as we target to arrive at the official capacity of 600 prisoners," said Nyamari.
The program is bound to go on with batches of prisoners released after certain periods of time depending on the names released by the high court.
Unlike in the other presidential amnesties experienced in the past that saw hardcore criminals released to go back and terrorize the community due to lack of scrutiny of their behaviors, the presidential mercy program has all the loop holes looked into to ensure that the released prisoners are really deserving to be released.