The Government has put in place measures to curb radicalization and violent extremism in prisons, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said.
He said significant steps have been made in collaboration with the National Counter-Terrorism Centre to improve training curriculum for staff and rehabilitation programmes for inmates to check the vice in the correctional institutions.
“A multi-agency Task Force, which I appointed to assess the capacity of Kenya Prisons Service, has concluded its assignment and presented the report for further review – which we will shortly be undertaking,” President Kenyatta said.
The Head of State was speaking Wednesday at the Prisons Staff Training College in Ruiru where he presided over the passing out parade of 2699 prisons recruits.
To reduce crime, stem radicalization and ensure security in the country, President Kenyatta said prison institutions are required to offer not only retributive justice but also the prospect of reform.
“Our justice system exists not just to punish offenders or to deter possible offenders from doing wrong; it exists also to encourage those who have done wrong to change, and to once more contribute meaningfully to society,” the President said.
President Kenyatta commended the graduands for their diligence and commitment that saw them successfully complete the nine months training that included diploma and certificate in security and correctional science.
He praised them for contributing Ksh 1.265 million towards supporting those affected by the ongoing drought, saying the prisons fraternity in total donated over Ksh 3.4 million to mitigate effects of the drought.
“Today, the graduands are celebrating the passing out parade after going through a rigorous initial course for Prisons officers along with Diploma and Certificate in Security and Correctional Science” said the President.
The programme was undertaken by the Kenya Prisons Service in partnership with Kenyatta University.
Noting that justice systems the world over are being re-assessed and re-evaluated, the President pledged continued investment in the transformation of the Prison service to ensure a robust and rehabilitative system.
“A system that seeks not to condemn but to correct. A system that doesn’t marginalize those who merit a second chance. A system which ensures that those who are paroled have the support, knowledge, networks, skills and incentive they need to find gainful employment, make moral decisions, follow the law, and avoid re-incarceration,” the President said.
He assured that the Government will continue to analyze the larger justice system to ensure the service keeps Kenya safe.
In performing their duties, President Kenyatta urged the new prison officers to uphold high standards guided by solid judgment, strength of character, an inflexible allegiance to justice and an unwavering respect for the dignity of all.
“These traits cannot be taught in a program. These traits cannot be learned through a course. These traits will only exist in those among you who sincerely reflect on not just the kind of Prison Officers you hope to be but the kind of people and citizens you want to be too,” the President said.
He added: “As you take your oath of office, consider how you will actualize it, how you will creatively use your position to serve our nation by serving prisoners, how you will leverage the skills and talents you have to transform our prison institutions and thereby advance the security of our country.”
The President, at the same time, directed Interior Cabinet Secretary and the Commissioner of Prisons to liaise with the Chief Justice regarding petty offenders to see if they could be released to decongest prison cells.
The President observed that some of the petty offenders have stayed longer in remand cells than they would have served jail terms if their cases were heard and determined.
To improve the welfare of prison officers, President Kenyatta said the Government has provided a comprehensive group life insurance cover for all officers, including those graduating today.
“We are also assessing budgetary allocations to ensure that prisons receive the funds they need to improve staff housing for prison officers – which, I realize, remains a pressing concern for many officers,” President Kenyatta said.
Other speakers included Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery and Prisons Commissioner General Isaiah Osugo.