Over 14,000 inmates released in a bid to decongest prisons

The government has released over 14,000 inmates as part of decongesting penal institutions in the wake of an upsurge in Covid-19 cases.

Plans are underway to increase the numbers of those released with the department of correctional services working with the Judiciary and the Ministry of Health in containing the spread of the disease.

Already, seven staff and a similar number of inmates from different prisons have died across the country due to Covid-19 related complications.

There are over 40,000 inmates in the country’s prison against a capacity of 30,000.

This came as the prison department ruled out vaccinating the inmates in the country under the ongoing vaccination program.

According to the PS for Correctional Services Zeinab Hussein, they had placed all the necessary measures in place to deal with the third wave which had claimed tens of lives.

Speaking after visiting Naivasha GK prison, Zeinab admitted that congestion was an issue but was quick to note that this had been addressed.

“Since the pandemic was first reported in the country, we have released over 14,000 inmates as part of decongesting prisons in line with the Ministry of Health directives,” she said.

The PS added that they were working closely with the judiciary in further releasing more inmates who were about to finish their term or were serving time for petty offenses.

“A new judge has been appointed to deal with the matter of decongesting prisons and this exercise is very successful in the fight against this pandemic,” she said.

She at the same time added that over 8,000 staff and their personnel had received the AstraZeneca vaccine as part of dealing with the pandemic.

She added that all inmates from courts, police cells, or different prisons were placed under quarantine for 14 days and undergoing tests before joining other inmates.

“We are keen on stopping the spread of this virus and we have vaccinated over 8,000 members of our staff and at the moment there are no plans to vaccinate the inmates,” she said.

On his part, Commissioner General of Prisons Wycliffe Ogalo said that containment measures had been put in place in all prisons.

He said that they had enough PPEs, sanitizers, watering points in the prisons, and face masks as part of the set health regulations.

“The prisoners are responsible for their safety and wellbeing and we are making sure that they have observed all the health procedures within the prisons,” he said.

  

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