Spread The Love

bedsOn 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.

beds3Many 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!

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5 responses to “Spread The Love

  1. Hi Pastor M,thanks alot for the post.I have had the opportunity to interact with our justice system first hand and I totally agree that many in our jails are in prison because they are too poor to afford a lawyer or pay the fines.I’m a doctor and as part of my duties called upon to give medical evidence in assault,defilement and rape cases.One cannot even compare the defense the accused with a lawyer gets vis a vis the one without a lawyer.For example I was once asked by an accused person whether his name appeared in the P3 form as having commited the crime(names are not usually included) and when I said no he was very content and had no mnre questions.As for the petty offenders,it is in their best interest to plead guilty to prevent a drawn out and expensive process.Pleas of not guilty are sometimes met with shock and annoyance.Anyway as you said something definitely needs to be done.

  2. I went to the Kibera Courts to support my cousin who was charged with theft by servant (i might add wrongfully charged and eventually …like 5 years later…acquitted). Walking in, i wondered if i was on the set of Vioja Mahakamani. The Magistrate behaved badly but that’s for another day. The number of people in remand was astonishing…one lady had been hauled in charged with causing a breach of the peace. she was a vegetable vendor and it seems words were exchanged…abusive words. she refused to say she was guilty. a lady sitting next to me said, ‘na huyu mathe ni mjinga!’. she proceeded to explain that she had been attending court for quite a while and the accused lady had been there for longer than that time still saying not guilty. my neighbour’s take on it was..she should just ‘kubali, alipe ngiri mbili aende home’. is that the face of justice in kenya, plead guilty, pay a fine so as to have your freedom. that it is better to have a record and get your freedom than it is to have your case heard on its merit?

    Hmmmm……….points to ponder. no wonder then that there would be

  3. I went to the Kibera Courts to support my cousin who was charged with theft by servant (i might add wrongfully charged and eventually …like 5 years later…acquitted). Walking in, i wondered if i was on the set of Vioja Mahakamani. The Magistrate behaved badly but that’s for another day. The number of people in remand was astonishing…one lady had been hauled in charged with causing a breach of the peace. she was a vegetable vendor and it seems words were exchanged…abusive words. she refused to say she was guilty. a lady sitting next to me said, ‘na huyu mathe ni mjinga!’. she proceeded to explain that she had been attending court for quite a while and the accused lady had been there for longer than that time still saying not guilty. my neighbour’s take on it was..she should just ‘kubali, alipe ngiri mbili aende home’. is that the face of justice in kenya? plead guilty, pay a fine so as to have your freedom. that it is better to have a record and get your freedom than it is to have your case heard on its merit? My cousin was ‘lucky’ (never mind that for 5 hyears of her life, kibera court was a sort of fixture). she had a lawyer and her family came together and paid what was necessary to secure her release. so as her case was going thru our ‘justice system’ with all kinds of sabotage, she had her ‘freedom’. that said, things got really elephant for her as she had little or no source of income. even she paises God because she has testimony …she has seen the Hand of God working in her life, He restored her home and she has a good secure job and is living life to the fullest.
    How many of the 40%, in the remand system, can say that?

    So where is justice?
    What is it? what does it mean?

    Hmmmm……….points to ponder.

  4. Would have loved to see the video for the handover ceremony. And is that a REAL picture of the prison after the upgrade? Really?

  5. This philosophy appeals to me – faith/religion that meets society at the point where social justice is needed; where real need is. Faith that is not afraid to be tested, questioned and applied in a real world with real problems. Faith that doesn’t hide its head in the sand while throwing empty platitudes at difficult situations. How kenya needs this kind of spirituality. Great work.

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