The government will focus on literacy programs, where inmates in the entire country are given an opportunity to improve their ability to read and write and improve on technical skills.
Speaking at Mwea GK Prison in Kirinyaga during a familiarization tour Wednesday, Correctional Services PS Mary Muthoni said apart from trying to decongest the prison, she will address the issue of literacy of the inmates.
Muthoni said majority of inmates have low literacy levels, which can be reduced through expansion of learning activities like those in TVET institutions.
“The literacy level of the inmates is not up to the global standards. We want to ensure we improve by offering skilled based activities,” she said.
“We will offer skills, especially technical ones like those in our TVETs, which can help them in future,” she said.
The PS added that the prisoners should not only reform but transform in terms of technical skills, which can apply in real life after prison.
“The prisoners should not only reform while in correctional facility, but also transform by getting skills which after they can get funds to start their own business,” added the PS.
She further noted that in the past, learning in the correctional institution has seen a number of inmates’ transit to higher levels of education, while others graduate with technical skills that have allowed them to reintegrate with the society very well.
This year, the prison registered over 100 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) students with 17 of them doing the exam within the Kirinyaga County facility.
In terms of congestion, the PS said they are in talks with relevant institutions, especially the Judiciary so that those with petty crimes can work under probation.
She noted they are in the process of identifying those who can be freed on power of mercy by the head of State.
“Another major challenge, I will look into is the congestion. We will have discussion with the judiciary to see how to deal with those involved in petty crimes,” she said.
“We are also in process of forwarding names of those who can be freed by President through Power of Mercy,” she added.
Muthoni said we all live as one society and she hopes to see in future prisons converted into schools of TVETs.
“We are one as a society and when the prisoners are freed we have to welcome them back to the society. We want in future to see some prison structures being converted into schools or TVETs,” she further said.
The PS also promised to look into the morale of the prison staff in terms of promotion and housing.
She said the promotion will be given to the right people and right time, same to awarding state honors for extraordinary performance.
“The morale of our wardens also is key. We will ensure that those deserving to get promotion in time. We want to see them getting state honors like other people and even junior wardens who excel in different fields,” she explained.
The PS was accompanied by Commissioner of Prison Brigadier (Rtd) John Warioba, Kirinyaga County Commissioner Moses Ivuto and other National Government Administration Officers.