Prisoners at the Kiambu G.K Prisons have undergone training on the criteria and procedures they could undertake in order to benefit from Presidential pardon via the Power of Mercy Advisory Committee.
The Committee which has been on a country wide tour of correctional facilities while educating inmates on the way they could receive pardon by the president spent the better part of the day the Kiambu prison where they interacted with the inmates.
The Committee led by the Dr. Scholastica Adeli a psychology Lecturer told the inmates that inmates who could benefit from the presidential pardon were those who had served at least a third of their jail term. “Once you serve a third of your term here, you can benefit if you apply to be pardoned.”
She however cautioned that those with pending cases in court could not benefit from the power of mercy by the president as they had not been convicted by the courts.
The process is a rigorous one which involves vetting the applicant and the prison officers who have been supervising them so as to get a clear record of how the applicant has been performing and his willingness to reform, be apologetic to the crime that made them to be committed to prison.
For one to benefit from the pardon, she said the committee checks the involvement of inmate while in prison in terms of skill gained and treatment program administered to the in-mate if the person had engaged in the programs so that they could enable him or her to be useful to herself and the society.
Also, she said the health issues and the age of the applicant were considered so that correctional facilities did not keep detaining sickly and aged people who could be pardoned to rejoin their families.
She then proceeded on out lining the process that the committee undertakes before handing over the power of mercy form to the president. ‘After applicant has filled in the form they are given a number the number hence during follow up of form by in-mate they state the form number so that they could only be identified by the number’ she said.
She explained to them that the application process could be done by the individual if at all they were able to read and write. During this process, honesty was paramount of the applicant as any lie would result to immediate disqualification of pardon process being escalated to the final stages.
She stated that the form would then be processed by several offices and finally the committee such as the Welfare officers, Pardon officers, Probation officers, the Committee itself where they interview the applicants and his fellow in-mates and lastly other departments before being submitted to the President for the final person to append the signature and allow them to be released forthwith.
She added that the president was not dictated by anything on when to release the inmates be it a National holiday or any time that he found appropriate
The Committee which was on second day visit in Kiambu County had earlier visited Ruiru Prison and intends to visit all the 128 prisons within the country with Kiambu prison being the 58th . Inmates within the Kiambu prisons had medium jail terms ranging between 0-10 years.
The mission of the Power of Mercy Advisory Committee is to receive and consider petitions by convicted criminal offenders, research and collaborate with other relevant organs and expeditiously render independent advice to the President on the exercise of Power of Mercy.
by Lydia Shiloya and Brendan Njoroge