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Gov’t moves to boost security in prisons

The government has boosted security in and around all prison facilities with a view to ensuring the safety of inmates and prison officers, Correctional Services Principal Secretary Safina Kwekwe Tsungu has said.

The PS said the government had set aside Sh800 million to construct security walls, complete development projects and boost prisons industries country-wide, projects she hoped would be completed within the 100-day RRI period.

She assured Kenyans that an incident like the one in which three terrorist convicts escaped from Kamiti Maximum Prison in November last year would not recur since the government had improved surveillance and security facilities in all prisons.

Speaking after a tour of the Malindi Maximum and Malindi Women’s Prison Monday, Ms Tsungu said the Prisons Department had kicked off a 100-day Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) in which it intends to construct security walls and complete development projects within its facilities country-wide.

“We have done our best to ensure that where there were security challenges, we have sealed loopholes. We have now embarked on the security of all prisons to secure them through the construction of security walls,” she said.

Ms Tsungu, who was flanked by Prisons Commission General John Warioba among other senior officers in the State Department for Correctional Services, said even where there were no security walls, prisons officers are very vigilant.

“Even where we do not have walls, our officers have been more vigilant, which has enabled them to prevent jail breaks and external attacks; and for this we praise them,” Ms Tsungu said.

On November 15, 2021, three convicted terrorist Musharaf Abdalla, Joseph Juma and Mohamed Abdi Abikar, escaped from the largest and most secure prison in the country, leading to the sacking of then Prisons Commissioner General Wycliffe Ogallo.

The three were arrested several days in Kitui County as they were travelling to neighbouring Somalia.

At the same time, Ms Tsungu said Kenyan prisons were facing congestion, and gave an example of the Malindi Maximum Prison, which she said was holding more than double their capacities.

She said at the Malindi main prison, there were about 800 inmates instead of the 400 the facility can hold and attributed the state of affairs to the fact that the facility was hosting a Covid-19 quarantine centre and the high number of remand prisoners.

Ms. Tsungu also noted that there were plans to relocate the Malindi Women’s prison, which is currently hosted by the main prison, noting that this would also help ease the congestion at the main prison.

Commissioner General John Warioba echoed Ms Tsungu’s sentiments, saying that all prisons in the country were facing congestion challenges.

By Emmanuel Masha and Amani Friday 

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