Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
Members of the National Assembly were yesterday told that 90 per cent of prisoners sleep on cold floors because of lack of beds and overcrowding.
Correctional Services Principal Secretary Zeinab Hussein admitted to the Committee on Administration and National Security chaired by Kiambaa MP Paul Koinage that prison officers also lack sweaters, overcoats, and jackets.
She added that feeding the 54,000 prisoners had become a challenge because of old and defective cooking appliances that cannot be replaced because of lack of funds.
“Our officers have no sweaters, overcoats, and jackets. We last bought uniforms in 2016. This department needs more cash for bedding and linen for inmates — 90 per cent of them sleep on cold floors,” she said while defending the department’s budget for the next financial year.
Hussein asked the committee to help the department access more money to enable it cater for the needs of inmates and prison officers.
She said that while the department had asked for Sh433 million to buy informs, it had been allocated Sh53 million and Sh60 million for purchase of linen, down from Sh236 million it had asked for.
The MPs expressed concern that, unlike other departments in the security docket, the prisons department had been neglected. “It is sad to hear that inmates are sleeping on the floor. This is inhumane,” said Koinange.
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa told the PS to prepare a list of requirements to guide the committee in allocating money to critical areas.
A report tabled in the National Assembly in March revealed that 84 per cent of prisons staff were living in conditions not fit for human habitation. The audit revealed that prison staff live in mud, iron sheet and timber-walled houses.