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Government to mechanize all Prisons arable land

The Government will spend Sh2 billion to mechanise all prison farms countrywide that have arable land with new equipment to modernise them in a bid to increase their productivity.

Interior and National Government Administration Cabinet Secretary  Kithure Kindiki, who was speaking during a visit to Mwea GK Prisons, said the intention of the programme is to make use of the farming activities to enhance food sufficiency within the prisons and the country.

The CS revealed that the government will also invest Sh1 billion to modernise workshop equipment in prisons to ensure inmates receive new skills and produce products that are competitive in the industry and modern market.

“We have huge tracts of land in our prisons which can be useful in farming. The government will provide modern machines and inputs to a tune of Sh2 billion to ensure all arable land is put to productive activities that can supply sufficient food,” Prof Kindiki said.

Mwea GK prison has 301 acres of arable land which is currently being used in rice production. The facility has already received a rice miller for processing of its own rice.

The Interior Ministry is putting measures and policies in place to decongest all prisons in the country by 50%. This will be facilitated through an engagement with the Judiciary and other stakeholders in the justice sector.

Correctional Services Principal Secretary Mary Muthoni.

The CS said in a few months, a new correctional services policy that meets the current standards will be in place.

He noted that the new policy will provide for a correctional environment that promotes humane containment of inmates; with a focus on inmate welfare, for instance, the policy will see each prisoner get two new sets of uniforms and a bed and a mattress.

He encouraged the utilisation of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and non-custodial or community service sentences to ease the number of inmates in correctional facilities.

“We want to decongest our prisons by half. Some laws are redundant, that is why we are working on policies that meet the needs of 21st century. Prisoners are human beings and their welfare should prioritized,” he reiterated.

State Deprtment for Correctional Services Principal Secretary Mary Muthoni, who accompanied the CS, said despite the fact that they are working under budget constraints, the provision of uniforms will be done.

During the tour the inmates presented a memorandum to the CS where they enumerated their requests including: fact tracking of cases, affordable bail terms, provision of food in court sessions and be allowed to communicate with immediate family members, fast tracking of release upon withdrawal of cases and setting up of a paralegal facility within the prison.

They also requested lifting of the ban on open visits that came in force during Covid-19 pandemic and improving the training courses to meet the current system of Competency Based Curriculum.

The CS directed that all officers and inmates countrywide will be provided with food during court sessions starting June.

“Despite budget issues, I have directed that all our offices and inmates from June be provided with food during court sessions. On meeting relatives, there is nothing wrong, all will be allowed to talk to immediate family members under parameters of security,” said Kindiki.

The CS was also accompanied by Commissioner General of Prisons Brigadier (Rtd) John Warioba and other senior government officials.

By Mutai Kipngetich

 

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