Enter a prison and brace yourself for the harsh experience of inmates imprisoned in colonial times. Not much has changed since the 1900s in terms of facilities and, many say, in treatment. Still, some inmates have left prison reformed and better skilled to earn a living on the outside. One man writes uplifting children's books and is looking for a publisher. If you are remanded, it's likely you will be detained in a facility that has been in existence for more than a century. The NairobiÂ Nairobi Remand and Allocation Prison was completed in 1911. If you're remanded at Shimo La Tewa Menâs Prison in Mombasa county, you will be cooling your heels in premises built in 1953 during a state of emergency.
And if you are remanded at the Isiolo Prison, you will be in an enclosure built in 1947. Kakamega Main prison was built in 1932 by the colonial government and it houses more than 1,205 inmates. The recommended limit is 500. In the time between your arrest and your release from prison after serving your sentence, you probably will have contracted tuberculosis. pneumonia, scabies or diarrhoea â or all of them. They have been found to be the most prevalent ailments in Kenyan prisons, according to a survey on the criminal justice system that Chief Justice David Maraga released in 2017. Kenya has about 57,000 inmates, many remanded and convicted for petty offences. First-time offenders are sometimes in the same population with hardened criminals.Reforms are urgently needed.
Day after day, year after year, imagine having no space to call your own, no choice of whom to be with, what to eat, where to go or what to do. There threats and suspicion everywhere. A gentle human touch is rare. You're separated from family and friends. But prison life is not that bad for the rich and influential. KTN investigations established that convicted criminals and suspects in remand, who have cash, can live like kings (of sorts) in self-contained cells with satellite TV and flush toilets. Meantime, thousands of poor convicts wallow in misery and want. FormerÂ Kamiti jailbird Stephen Musyoka (not his real name), says the initial search is not as thorough as you may imagine. You walk in the door and you get strip-searched,â he says. That's for those suspected to be in possession of drugs. âYou then hand over all your possessions. Identification details are recorded in a register duty officers. You are issued with two blankets and a prison uniform or Kunguru, a striped black and khaki outfit," Stephen says. Prisoners then are assigned where to sleep, it may be a room with dozens of mattresses.
His first day in prison was a nightmare. Prisoners 'bid' for new inmates with the highest bidder turning the ânewbieâ into a wife. âThere is a prisoner in charge of allocating sleeping quarters to new inmates. So, when you come in as first-timer and are still in the holding area, the prisoners in charge â we call them 'Overall'â will be bribed with amounts ranging from Sh300 to Sh500," Stephen recalls. The highest bidder will have the new prisoner assigned to his cell. âTheir preference is usually young, âyellow-yellow,â plump men who are in prison for the first time," Stephen says. When you get to the cell, which is usually full, your âhusbandâ will let you share his mattress, food and cigarettes. But come night, you will have to pay back.â