Forty-four inmates in Garissa, serving a maximum of three (3) years for petty offences, have been released from prisons in a move aimed at decongesting prisons during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A nationwide exercise carried out by the National Committee of Community Service Order, began on Monday 14th at different high courts in the country, especially in counties that are said to have extremely congested prisons.
Speaking after reviewing inmate files in Garissa, Committee’s Chairperson, Justice Cecilia Githua, said that their duty is to oversee a smooth implementation of Non-custodial sentences that involve Community Service Order for offenders convicted for petty offences that attract a punishment of three (3) years imprisonment.
The process involves getting a list of proposed intimates for release from probation officers who in their view have already been reformed and are no longer a danger to society.
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“We had a team to do a social enquiry report on those offenders. The judges are guided by these reports on offenders who have undergone skills in the prisons, which can be used to be integrated into the society and those who have reformed in a way that they are no longer a danger to the society,” Githua said.
“In Garissa, we received 57 files, for some, their sentences have been reduced to time already served but there are those who have been recommended by probation officers to serve in communities at various work agencies,” she added.
Justice Githua, however, said that they rejected 13 files of offenders who had been found not suitable for release because the communities in which they live and the area administration considers them a threat to the society while others were repeat offenders who did not deserve to be out of prison.
She noted that the main purpose of Non-custodial Sentences is to rehabilitate the offenders within the community, to avoid disruption of family life and ensure that prisons are not congested with offenders who do not need to be there.
“Prison is a correctional facility for offenders convicted for serious crimes. Some petty offenders, instead of getting better, in terms of behaviour and shaping their character, get worse because of the influence they get in prison,” she said.
According to Justice Githua, the inmates once released will be required to undertake community service and labour in various government institutions.