Senate Prisons Committee kicks off country tour, advocates for reforms
Published on: December 11, 2015 03:00 (EAT)
A five-member committee of the Senate has embarked on a tour of the country’s prisons with a view of coming up with laws to reform the correctional facilities. The purpose of the new laws is to improve the state of the country’s prisons. The Senate committee will come up with a report and strategies that will amend legislations affecting correctional institutions. The report will be submitted to the Senate once complete. Speaking at Shikusa Prisons in Kakamega on Thursday, the chair of the committee, Fatuma Dulo, stated that the visits are aimed at coming up with a report that will guide the amendments of the Prisons Borstal Institutions Act. She was also keen to note that inmates lack a proper life after serving their sentences. Senator Dulo also claimed that correction was not taking place as required:“Working on farms is not an effective way of ensuring correction for inmates.” On his part, Senator Mutula Junior, who is also a member of the committee, advocated for non-custodial sentences in a bid to help ease congestion in prisons. He also pushed for a savings scheme for inmates: “Accounts can be opened for them where part of the money earned from the merchandise they make while serving sentences can be deposited in the accounts. This is to help inmates in their life after prison.” Shikusa Prison Head, Japheth Onchiri, appreciated the move by the Senate to form the committee and was hopeful they will deliver. He also highlighted the challenges they face as an institution, stating that underfunding is the major impediment they face. He was, however, opposed to non-custodial sentences pointing out that it was not a sustainable strategy to decongest prisons and that it would only increase crime. Instead, Onchiri advocated for capacity expansion in correctional facilities. The committee comprises 5 members: Senators Fatuma Dulo, Judith Sijeny, Zipporah Kitony, Mutula Kilonzo Junior and Joy Gwendo.