On Sunday after a phenomenal service, a team from Mavuno moved over to the Industrial Area Remand Prison, a large prison with a population of 3500 inmates. Mission: to deliver 275 beds for the inmates as well as commission the newly painted and refurbished juvenile dorm and sick bay (plus sanitary areas).
Here are some facts about Kenyan prisons that you may or may not know…
- There are currently around 51,000 inmates in all our Kenyan jails combined
- Out of these, a full 20,000 are in remand (i.e. are awaiting trial and have not been proven guilty by a court of law)!
- Of the remaining 31,000, the majority (around 28,000) are in for petty offenses that should normally warrant community service as opposed to hard time
- Okay, get this… The major reason the majority of the 20,000 haven’t had their cases fast-tracked or the 28,000 are in prison instead of our doing community service is that they couldn’t afford a lawyer to make their case.
- In other words, over 90% our prisoners are in prison because they are poor
- Because of overcrowding in our prisons, petty offenders and non-offenders are forced to mixed with hardened criminals (the minority). What do you think is the result?
Okay, I had to get out of the way. Someone asked me a while back why anyone would waste resources on prisoners (I guess what she meant is ‘people who don’t deserve it’). These are just some of the reasons why.
I think someone once said that if you want to know the level of civilization and humaneness of a society, visit its jails and prisons.
Many teams from Mavuno have already instituted other projects in the prison, such as a newly refurbished toilet block for the warders, rehabilitation of the prison academy etc. This is the second prison we’ve been engaged in after the Nairobi West Prison.
I thank God for the compassionate fearless influencers He’s raising up to lead our prisons. These include the deputy senior commissioner of prisons and the officers in charge of the two prisons we’ve interacted with so far. They’re teaching us that when we treat prisoners like human beings, those who are there wrongfully at least get some humane treatment. And those who are there rightfully have a better shot at rehabilitation.
So, a great time was had by all. Including a special prison edition of the ‘Spread The Love’ concert by some phenomenally talented artistes led by Kanjii. You can read about it here, and see the photo gallery here.
Of course all this is just a step in the right direction. We need people who will commit time and resources to engage the justice system to ensure that it is not biased against you for the crime of being poor.
A big thanks to all of you who gave and came. And to the media, including Mwangi Kirubi & mwafrika.com for giving the day some great coverage!