Civil Societies Changing the Faces of Prisons.

Have you ever been in prison? For any reason I mean. Visiting with a church group? Visiting somebody close? Incarcerated? Training? Community service? Counseling practicum? Apart from incarceration, you were able to gain access to prison because of the Open Door Policy enacted in 2001. The policy entails opening up prisons to scrutiny by civil society organizations and members of the public. I will redirect you to this article if you need to learn more about the prison reforms and the impact it has realized so far.

Prisons have morphed from institutions of punishment to rehabilitation centers. Nafisika Director’s talk during the recently concluded Amani Conference highlighted that prisons are to offenders what hospitals are to the sick. What a noble way to view the correctional facilities! If people suffering from contagious illnesses were to live in our midst without medical attention, then we would all contract the diseases. Again, from another perspective, if we went to the hospital, got admitted and stayed there without receiving treatment, wouldn’t we go back to the society with new, more resistant strains of infections and continue harming members of our community.

We, therefore, cannot continue living in the oblivion of the importance of prison. The government, private organizations, and individuals have continually pumped resources to health facilities. It is important at this point to put out that with increased awareness, people are seeing the importance of prisons. However, we need to break the stigma associated with prison. Why do we need to do this? Crime is a symptom of hopelessness, laziness, negligence, illiteracy, and many more vices. Prisons nowadays, through rampant and intentional discourses and actions, are hospitals for the mentioned vices. They are clinics for restoring proper mental health that supports innovation, industriousness, honor, integrity, and workmanship. It is a process whose total success will take time. Perhaps not in our generation, but those who will come after us will point to us and say, ’those who came before us started the right cause. They were the true heroes.’

What has been achieved?

Rehabilitation is a very simple concept. It has three dimensions; psychological empowerment, education, and vocational training.

The burden of rehabilitating inmates does not now lie solely on the Prison’s service. Numerous Civil Societies have joined forces in their different mandates to offer rehabilitative training to offenders. Speaking for Nafisika Trust, we acknowledge that entrepreneurship and business are shaping the economy of our African countries. We have the Imarika Entrepreneurship Programme that provides inmates with skills to start, manage and expand businesses for the benefit of themselves and the community around them.

Many organizations have brought educational courses like Legal Education, supported the state founded formal education, built libraries and halls to be used as classrooms. Others have empowered vocational training programs by introducing technical courses like knitting, tailoring, baking, masonry, mechanics and the list here is endless. Churches and other faith-based organizations support the spiritual wellbeing of inmates and have been very instrumental in breaking generational curses and reintegration upon release. Other government stakeholders like examination bodies KNEC, KASNEB, and NITA are creating and crediting courses. Probation and Aftercare Services provide ways of reuniting with the community the inmates hail from.

Being neutral, we have come a long way and still have a long way to go. We can hasten our steps to achieve our success sooner rather than later. Stand up for Change Today!

About Makini Awards.

Every two years, Nafisika Trust in collaboration with the Kenya Prison Service rolls out a competitive and motivational award program to all workers of the corrective and rehabilitative service. By so doing, wardens and Civil Societies are encouraged to continue in their work and also to raise the bar even higher. The project submission window is open until 22nd November 2019. Hurry up and apply. Should you want to partner with Nafisika Trust on Makini Awards, reach out to us on 0708385125 or info@nafisikatrust.org

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