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32 petty offenders released from jail

Thirty-two inmates at the Eldoret male and female GK prison celebrated Valentine’s Day with tears of joy after a group of well-wishers secured their freedom by clearing their fines.

14 women inmates and 18 male inmates who had been incarcerated for failing to raise fines imposed by the court for committing petty offences got a reprieve after the fines were cleared by Rupa Business Centre and other partners to commemorate this year Valentine’s day.

Speaking at the Eldoret women prison when the well-wishers who included students from Moi University Annex, Grand Royal Medical care, a group of dentists who presented flowers to the inmates, the officer in charge Eunice Odhiambo appreciated the gesture saying it was part of rehabilitation and reintegrating the inmates back to the society and decongesting the prisons.

She said strict criteria was followed before the inmates were released, “we looked at those who have reformed to a large extent and whose remaining time was short. I wish to assure the community and families of the inmates that those released will be useful to society as we have equipped them with adequate skills,” she said.

Eldoret High Court judge Justice Reuben Nyakundi rooted for mediation to address petty offences at the grassroots level.

Justice Nyakundi said victim offender mediation and restorative justice at community level should be encouraged as much as possible for non-serious offences as this would go a long way towards conflict settlement and promoting relationships between the offender and the offended at the family and community level.

Incarcerating petty offenders who may have committed an offence through a mistake would destroy their character and make them remain stigmatized throughout their lives, noted Justice Nyakundi.

“Quite a number of people we have in prison are first time offenders whose offences could have been handled at the community level through customary mechanisms because our customs have a way of dealing with crime at the local level, this way we would prevent the offenders from ever repeating such an offence because they would have been shamed at the community,” Justice Nyakundi said.

“However long an offender is sentenced to prison, they will still be released, being taken to prison is not an eternity, when such people go back to their families, or communities and the relatives and community members they offended are still there, how will their relationship be? hence the need to promote mediation,” he reiterated.

Justice Nyakundi said Prison should be left for serious crime offenders only.

By Kiptanui Cherono

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