Naivasha inmates push for replacement of life and death sentences

Tuesday February 16 2016

Inmates from the Naivasha Maximum Security Prison in a singing group known as Kigocho Brothers entertain guests during the occasion to mark African Correction Day in 2012 FILE PHOTO | MACHARIA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Inmates from the Naivasha Maximum Security Prison in a singing group known as Kigocho Brothers entertain guests during the occasion to mark African Correction Day in 2012 FILE PHOTO | MACHARIA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MACHARIA MWANGI
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Inmates at the Naivasha Maximum Security Prison are lobbying to have death and life sentences replaced with “definitive” jail terms.

They have termed death sentences and life imprisonment as “punitive” and urged Parliament to intervene and make changes to the necessary laws.

According to the inmates, those sentenced to life imprisonment and those waiting for the hangman's noose are “undergoing psychological torture” owing to the nature of their jail terms.

“We are greatly disadvantaged as the law currently is. Despite having reformed while still in prison, we stand a little chance of being set free,” they told members of the National Assembly committee on Administration and National Security who toured the prison.

Among the laws that would need reviewing is the Kenya Prisons Cap 90, which is being reviewed to align it to the Constitution in regard to prisons.

“We want to enjoy privileges like our colleagues serving shorter sentences if one exhibits behavioural change while still serving their jail term,” said an inmate, Ben Loyatum.

MAJORITY IN SCHOOL

He said the majority of the inmates were now in school, calling their jail terms a hindrance to getting good grades in examinations.

The inmates were also pushing for parole — the temporary release of an inmate who consents to certain conditions prior to the completion of the maximum sentence period.

Speaking during the tour by the parliamentary committee, Baringo County Woman Representative Grace Kiptui, said the team was on a fact-finding mission to listen to grievances of inmates.

“We came here (Naivasha Prison) following a petition written to us by some of the inmates wanting the power of mercy to be looked into, among other issues,” she said.

She termed the visit an eye-opener, especially on the issue regarding the Sexual Offences Act, which the inmates claimed had been “abused” and a reason majority of them were still languishing in jail.

“They claimed it has become a tool of oppression and we shall definitely be looking at it,” said Ms Kiptui.

The Naivasha prison has more than 3,000 inmates, a majority of them on death row and life sentences.