Fast-track funding for prisons projects
Rehabilitation of prisoners is not only beneficial to them, but to the larger society as well.
Together with reintegration into the community, it reduces risks of former prisoners reverting to crime, keeps the neighbourhood safe and also helps them to make a place for themselves in society without stigma.
In Kenya, there have been a number of programmes through which inmates become educated and gain skills they can use when they return to the community.
They would be able to earn a living and contribute to development. The news that such programmes might no longer be available due to lack of funding is, therefore, cause for concern.
Reports that the Prisons Service does not have funds to continue with the rehabilitation process should be taken with utmost seriousness, and immediate action taken to ensure the programmes are given a new lease of life.
Already the impact of former Vice-President Moody Awori’s efforts in not only improving prisons, but also the lives of Prisons officers, was being felt across the country, and halting the programmes would reverse the gains already made.
Besides benefits to society, rehabilitation of prisoners is also important to the government in many ways, including reducing incarceration and cutting costs related to keeping inmates in prison.
That this revelation has come at a time when Prison officers have yet to be promoted and to receive due remuneration means all is not well in the Service.
The stagnation of roles means that staff are demotivated, which could impact how they perform their duties.
It is also a ticking time bomb in regards to the mental health of the officers, most of whom are frustrated at the status quo especially with the rising cost of living and the harsh economic realities.
While it is commendable that the government has said it will address this starting July this year, long-term measures must be taken to ensure that we do not get back to the old dispensation where prisons were only regarded as places of punishment and not rehabilitation.
Planning in advance and constant update checks must be factored so that any gaps are addressed in good time.
Only then can Prisons live true to their motto of Kurekebisha na Haki (Rehabilition with Justice).