Principal Secretary for Correctional Services Ms. Mary Muthoni Muriuki has called on Laikipia residents to embrace Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) instead of litigating cases in court.
Speaking in Laikipia West Sub County, during a tree planting exercise to mark the International Day of Forests held at the Marmanet Forest, the PS said that ADR is an agenda that needs to be adopted by all.
The tree-planting exercise was undertaken by 166 inmates released on Monday this week by the Prisons department.
Planted trees will be monitored and taken care of by convicts placed on community service in partnership with the Kenya Forestry Service.
This, she said is in line with the presidential directive to decongest prisons in the country. The order was issued by the President during the last pass-out of prison officers at Ruiru Prisons College.
The PS asked the Judiciary to impress upon chiefs and local leaders to embrace alternative dispute resolution before going to court and especially for petty and societal-level offenses.
She added that for those already in custody, the government has initiated the community service order and urged the probation officers to move to courts and review the petty cases and have them released.
“Before anybody with petty offences is taken to court it is good we try to embrace the alternative dispute resolution at the village level. For those in prison today we have initiated the community service order where probation officers shall go to court, review the sentences and ensure a sizeable number of petty offenders are released and placed on CSO to perform the unpaid labour like planting of trees,” said the PS.
She said the government allocates Sh275 per prisoner every day adding the state incurs a huge expense in maintaining inmates in the long run. She argued that the funds can be used elsewhere for development purposes.
“Our economy relies heavily on the natural eco system. I want to make a clarion call to all leaders and residents to ensure we green our country for our future generations.
The PS oversaw the planting of over 100,000 seedlings at the Marmanet forest a number she said will continue increasing, through their partners.
She at the same time called on the County Government and residents to buy seedlings from the prisons department.
Ms Muriuki said the Prisons and Probation department have over 5 million tree seedlings in their nurseries countrywide.
Laikipia Governor Joshua Irungu said that he is in support of prison decongestion.
He called on the PS to release some prisoners with less than 3 years remaining to serve their jail term so that they can help the community in tree planting and contribute to the economy.
Governor Irungu said that the county government will supply farmers with fruit seedlings for free to supplement the food basket in Laikipia. He added that the County agenda for the next one month is tree and food crops planting.
The tree planting event was a partnership by Lotto Kenya Foundation, Athletics Kenya, County Government, WWF Kenya among others.
By Antony Mwangi