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Prison department faces a challenge in dealing with intersex inmates

The prison department has identified a rise in the number of intersex persons as one of the major challenges currently facing the heavily congested penal institutions.

The department said that it was working on how to host and deal with the new phenomena that are being recorded regionally with several cases already pending in court.

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This came as it emerged that the prisons were hosting double their capacity with 90 per cent of the inmates unable to hire lawyers due to high poverty levels.

This emerged when Justice Defenders and the Prison department embarked on training for paralegals at Naivasha GK Prison targeting both inmates and members of staff.

According to Dixon Mwakazi, the Director of Legal and human rights in prisons, the department was embracing the new phenomena of intersex inmates.

He said that the special group was protected by the law adding that they would protect them and offer support whenever in their facilities.

“We have a new phenomenon in terms of intersex and we are working on modalities of how to host them and whereas we train our officers on the issue of human rights,” he said.

Speaking in Naivasha prison, the senior officer lauded the paralegal training for inmates noting that it would help in decongestion.

He noted that currently, the country’s penal institutions had over 60,000 inmates against a capacity of 25,000 adding that 90 per cent of the inmates could not afford legal support.

“Last year, over 6,000 inmates were either set free or released on bond following the paralegal training by Justice Defenders and we are calling for affordable bail for petty offenders,” he said.

The Country-Director, Justice Defenders, Miriam Wachira said that they were currently working in 18 prisons in the country terming the programme as very successful.

She noted that half of the inmates in the country were in remand due to lack of knowledge in dealing with their cases adding that the ongoing training would help address this.

“With this training, many inmates have benefitted with 6,000 getting released last year at a time when 90 per cent of those in prison cannot afford legal fees,” she said.

Retired Justice Anne Claire Williams from the US lauded the programme noting that training would make a lot of difference in courts.

“For years, there has been concern within the justice system over lack of representation of the poor who are in prisons and this programme can change all that,” she said.

An inmate Stanlous Musembi who is serving a life sentence and has a law degree said that the paralegal training had changed the lives of many inmates.

“There are many innocent people who have been jailed due to poor representation in court but under this programme many have been released after training,” he said.


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