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Inmates protest against poor conditions in Kwale prison

Inmates follow the proceedings at a ceremony to mark the conclusion of the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions National case review programme at Kwale GK Prison, Kwale County on Friday June 15, 2018. Photo by James Muchai/KNA.

Inmates have decried the poor living conditions at the Kwale GK Prison in Kwale County.

Before Senior  Criminal Justice officials who were visiting the facility, the inmates complained that the conditions in their rooms were pathetic and inhuman.

The team included Deputy Commissioner of Prisons, James Kodieny and Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms. Dorcas Oduor  who officiated a ceremony on Friday to mark the conclusion of a national review of all pending cases in prisons in an effort to address backlog.

Among other grievances raised by the convicts included lack of mattresses, uniforms as well as an acute shortage of kitchen and dining ware at the facility.

While entertaining the guests, the remandees at the facility staged a mock drama in which they also criticized the local courts for case delays and denying them bonds.

Their protests seemed to pour cold water on the prison reforms championed by former Vice President, Moody Awori who was also in charge of the Prisons docket.

The reforms were applauded since they had started to give the correctional facilities a human face.

They included among others, general improvement of living conditions in jail complete with prison buses and TV sets while an open door policy that encouraged family-visiting days was also put in place.

But according to the Kwale inmates, the reforms seemed to have slackened, if not abandoned altogether, since conditions at the facility were still wanting.

The convicts face a shortage of sleeping materials forcing them to sleep on tattered mattresses and threadbare blankets. The prison kitchen lacks cooking utensils with most of the sufurias being totally worn out.

“We eat from old leaking utensils which hardly hold any soup,” a prisoner said referring to the metallic prison food containers which they ate from.

To add insult to injury, majority of them have not been issued with the orange prison pullovers introduced during the ‘Uncle’ Moody-led reforms.

In response, Kodieny, who represented Commissioner of Prisons, Isaiah Osugo at the event, said all the inmates’ grievances would be addressed.

“We’ll look into all the issues you’ve presented to us because they touch on your welfare,” he said.

The Kwale Resident Magistrate, Ms. Betty Koech told the remandees that the constitutional right to bond and bail was not an automatic entitlement.

“The right may be denied under certain circumstances which the court explains to the accused persons,” she said.

By  James  Muchai

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