Budget Cuts Risks Worsening State Of Prisons, MPs Told
Revelations made before the Budget and Appropriation Committee have shown that if the government fails to increase the budget by Sh6.5 billion will adversely affect the operation domiciled at the Prison services.
With an annual average population of 57,000 inmates per year, the proposed budget ceiling of Sh35.8 billion will only result in a shortage of prisoners’ beddings and uniforms as inmates walk naked in the prison which taints the government negatively.
Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) chairman George Murugara told MPs that the current situation in prisons need to be changed by addressing financial shortages.
“Why is anybody naked today because he went in and was given uniform and they get worn out and the guy walks naked in prison and they are then kept in a block where all naked people are kept so that they don’t mingle with the others,” said Murugara.
The legislator implored the Ndindi Nyoro-led committee that in the Sh6.5 billion budget, they need an additional Sh342.1 million to purchase prisoners bedding and linen.
The department has only managed to procure and issue bedding for 20,778 inmates against the annual average of 57,000 inmates.
The sharpened increase of inmates especially in the Central region due to the crackdown on illicit liquor has affected the budget set aside for the purchase of food and rations for inmates.
In the additional allocation, the Sh3.2 billion is set to be used for food to accommodate all inmates whose average food cost per inmate is billed at Sh272 per inmate.
“Owe unto you if you go to prison because you are told that food is inedible but owe unto you because if you go there you will fight for that food. You saw Mackenzie the first complaint is that they are not giving us food but the issue is that it’s so little,” Murugara said.
MPs however opined that the government was focused on subsidizing production and not consumption hence the correctional service department should focus to modernize its farms to complement the food ration fund.
“That’s a huge amount and totally unsustainable. Kitale Prison has more than 300 acres of land which are completely unused. There need to be linkage between Ministry of Agriculture and Prisons for supply subsidized fertilizer which is missing.”
“The Sh3.2 billion should be a cost of production so that next year we talk about a reduced cost to fertilizer and seeds so we enable prisons to sustain themselves,” said Tongaren MP John Chikati.
Prisons are overcrowded as there had not been an expansion of infrastructure to cope with the growing number of inmates.
The existing infrastructure is rapidly aging as not much has changed since the 1900s in terms of facilities and, many say, in treatment.
The combination of overcrowding, aging buildings, and lack of resources drive many of the problems such as sickness and disease and a shortage of ablution facilities.