Mombasa senator Mohammed Faki has decried the increasing number of petty offenders congesting Kenyan prisons.
Speaking in Mombasa Friday during the reopening of the Mombasa Court of Appeal, Senator Faki appealed to the judicial system to device ways of giving minor offenders alternative sentences instead of serving prison terms.
This he said would rehabilitate offenders back to the society instead of them ending up being notorious criminals when they mingled with capital offenders in prisons.
“If a minor offender spends time with a hard core criminal, he is likely to be recruited to one where upon release they think more of going back to prison by committing more crime than being reformed citizens,” he noted.
Faki who is a member of the Senate Justice and Legal Committee said most of the Kenyan prisons held double number of inmates over the required capacity.
He reported that during the Senate committee tours to most prisons, the numbers were too high and urged the judicial officers to consider reducing remandees with petty offences.
He observed that Industrial Area prison spent over Sh800, 000 daily to feed prisoners where the number could be reduced by sentencing petty offenders to community service, thus reducing the cost of feeding inmates and avoid possible disease outbreaks due to congestion of remandees idling in prisons.
The Senator lauded Shimo la Tewa prison programme for rehabilitating drug addicts and equally commended the judiciary for introducing plea bargain to minor offenders which helped in reformation through community service.
He called on judges and magistrates to give reasonable bail terms to petty offenders or light sentences to those who could not raise bail.
The Senator said some prisons discriminated against remandees who got half what convicts got, and called on the judiciary to offer alternative sentences to avoid congesting prisons with remandees.
Faki who is also a practicing advocate said the aim of judiciary is not to punish but to rehabilitate offenders and absorb them into the society as useful members contributing to building of the nation.
He commended the judiciary for reopening the Mombasa Court of Appeal which translates to increased business in the legal profession as well as increased revenue to fund public services.
Faki hailed the reopened Mombasa court of appeal saying some of the land mark court decisions were made in the Mombasa court.
He noted that lawyers would have more time to argue cases comprehensively unlike before when space and time constraints dictated sentences.
By Joseph Kamolo