Lawyers in the country have been urged to consider providing pro bono services to suspects to help reduce congestion in prisons.
The Laikipia County Governors’ wife, Maria Mbeneka said that many innocent people were languishing in prisons due to lack of legal services when they were being convicted.
Speaking when she toured Nyahururu’s Thomson Falls Women Prison in Laikipia County on Saturday, Mbeneka said, “Thousands of pre-trial detainees and petty offenders are languishing in the congested jails as a result of lack of legal aid.”
Mbeneka who is also the vice president of the East Africa Law Society and a member of the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) said some of these instances could have been avoided if someone volunteered to provide legal aid to them.
“That is the reason I am urging our lawyers to consider providing legal aid to Kenyans,” she said and regretted the few lawyers offering legal services to remandees. “Lawyers should not wait for the legal aid week to offer free services,” she challenged.
She promised to hold talks with LSK and the directorate of public prosecution to come up with ways to curtail conviction of petty offenders.
The governor’s wife also called on the Judiciary not to lock mentally challenged convicts with other prisoners for security purposes.
“The Judiciary needs to consider ways of prosecuting and convicting people with mental illnesses by avoiding placing them with others prisoners as doing so posed security threat to other inmates,” she added.
Mbeneka at the same time appealed to the National Government to register the inmates with National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) as a way of reducing financial constraints to prison department.
By Jesse Mwitwa