By Christine Tarayie.
Tanzania Prisons Commissioner General John Minja, is urging the East Africa governments to increase prisons’ fund to fight congestion in the facilities.
Speaking at Athi-river Prison in Kitengela at the end of a three-day tour meant for preparation of a forum between all East Africa prisons leaders, Minja said inadequate funds was to blame for the poor conditions in most prisons. “Poor economy in the East Africa countries has for years left our prisons in deplorable conditions and as leaders, we are holding a forum to strategise on how to overcome this financial hurdle.
Coming up with a strategy of increasing funding will enable us decongest the facilities that are recently over populated,” he said.
Minja and his entourage who mingled freely with inmates as they showcased their prowess in wood work, soap making, leather work, metal work and farming, further said that prisons have played a major role in reducing crime through training.
“ Inmates who leave prison after serving their jail terms can get employment because of their skills from the training, or begin their own businesses,’’ the commander said.
Athi-river Prison Boss Bison Madegwa, echoed his sentiments saying that if supply of materials is increased, inmates will increase their output and increase prison funds. “Increasing prison funds will boost the development initiative of the East Africa countries. Once funds are available and materials and trainers are increased in prisons, the output will yield a tangible growth of our economy,” said Madegwa.
The prison that has 790 inmates, offers courses in furniture making, carpentry, metal work, wood work, shoe making, leather tannery, furnishing, soap, detergent and lotion making.
Meanwhile, members of the public have been urged to embrace inmates once they served their jail terms in a bid to boost their self esteem and shun crimes.
Addressing the inmates’ families, relatives and friends during a family day at GK Athi River prison recently, Officer-in-Charge, Bison Madegwa said the public should be ready to embrace inmates since most of them have reformed by the time they leave prisons.
“Currently Kenyan prisons are geared to rehabilitating inmates positively through mentorship and training in various courses. The society should therefore change their attitude towards inmates and once they complete their terms in jail, the latter should be received well,’’ said Madegwa.
He said that most inmates face stigma after their jail terms making them re-engage in crime. “The discrimination and torture from members of the public that inmates face after serving their jail terms lowers their self esteem making them opt to revenge by embarking crime,” said Madegwa.
Madegwa further urged the public to work hand in hand with the prisons department to help inmates.
During the occasion attended by thousands of persons, the 790 inmates interacted freely with their relatives and the prison officers.
Inmates urged the outside community to accept them back saying by the time they leave they will have reformed and undergone beneficial courses.
Relatives who visited the inmates lauded the government for the rare gesture of uniting inmates with their relatives.