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Judge Blames Harsh, Stiff Laws for congestion in prisons

06 April 2016, 15:55

Nairobi – Addressing the issue of congestion in prisons Justice Luka Kimaru said that harsh laws regarding alcohol consumption, sexual offences, traffic, protection of wildlife and forests are a contributing factor.

According to the Daily Nation Justice Kimaru addressed the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Prisons saying asking them to revise policy of punishment in order more effective reforms and allow judicial officers to give a variety of sentences.

Also read:  Criticism as Uhuru's niece appointed to government.

The increase he is said is due to the minimum sentences in the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act popularly known as Mututho Laws, the Sexual Offences Act, the Traffic Act and the laws on wildlife and forests.

The committee which was formed in 2015 is aimed at looking into the state prisons in Kenya.

To date the incarceration rate as increased from 32 000 in 2009 to 56 800 in 2016 because of minimum sentences.

For example a woman selling boiled eggs on the side of the road was ordered to pay Sh100 000 fine or slapped with a one year prison sentence.

The law doesn’t make provisions for petty crimes but instead gives fine that exceed perpetrators ability to pay thefine or are given harsh sentences. i.e. person collecting dry firewood will be given same sentence as illegal loggers.

Assistant Director of Probation, Clement Okech said that developmental age is also never considered for a naïve youth who are easily coerced.

A study conducted in 2009 showed that 92% of remandees in prison are below 35 years old and are therefore hardened in prison due to hard criminals.

The Standard Media reported on the conditions of some prisons in the country describing them as not even for swines.

Namely Kodiaga prison which when mentioned causes many to shudder calling it a ‘hell of a place’.

In July 2015 serial killer Harrison Okumu was so terrifying that he attempted suicide but was later killed by his cell mates.

It houses more than 2 650 prisoners which is double what they are able to accommodate and has the highest suicide rates in Kenya.

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