• Muthoni said there is a need for nursing mothers to be separated from the rest of the inmates to protect their babies from contracting infectious diseases in the prisons.
• Programme will seek to provide 'one baby cot per baby', establish special facilities for lactating mothers, fast-track or review mothers' cases.
The government has embarked on transformative programmes to improve the living conditions of women inmates nursing their babies in prison.
Correctional Services PS Mary Muthoni said on Monday the programmes will go a long way in addressing infrastructural needs, psychological support and moral welfare for both mothers and children.
She said the programme will seek to provide 'one baby cot per baby', establish special facilities for lactating mothers, fast-track or review mothers' cases and enhance comfort for the babies as their mothers serve their sentences.
Muthoni said there is a need for nursing mothers to be separated from the rest of the inmates to protect their babies from contracting infectious diseases in the prisons.
She said under the programme, the state further intends to operationalise modern day care centres where children would be nurtured under the care of a matron.
Muthoni said so far, 300 children below two years are residing in various prisons across the country courtesy of their imprisoned mothers.
"Some of the babies are as young as a day old, therefore we want to ensure that the facilities we have in place cater to the mothers in prisons as well," she said.
"Some of them are lactating and it's good to separate them from the rest of the prisoners to avoid diseases and picking of mannerism from other inmates."
The PS said that as a way of rescuing minors from unconducive environment, her department will work closely with the Judiciary to speed up their mothers' cases and ensure petty offenders are released.
Muthoni spoke during a familiarisation tour of Mwea and Kerugoya prisons.
She said the government is undertaking a massive infrastructural transformation in prisons across the country to elevate their standards in line with the UN recommendations.
At the Mwea prison, the PS said the government would improve the infrastructure of the kitchen, dispensary and gate lodge which she said are in a deplorable condition.
"We found this station in a very bad situation. The kitchen is dilapidated, the clinic is closed and the gate lodge which is supposed to be a security zone is not habitable at all," Muthoni said.
"Therefore I came to make sure that we start the projects which while complete will help us be in line with the national agenda and that the health agenda is enhanced."
She said under the 'one mattress per prisoner' programme the government has distributed 15,000 mattresses and is targeting to distributed 60,000 in one year.
The PS also pledged that her office would work closely with the Judiciary to fast-track remandees' pending cases, which have been lying in courts for a long time.
While terming it delayed justice, the PS cited Kerugoya court where some remandees have waited up to 10 years for judgment on their cases.
She said incarcerating remandees for a lengthy period without progress has proven to be burdensome as it puts a strain and cause inconveniences on the government's budgeted finances.
And to decongest prisons, the PS said cases of some convicts serving below three years, petty offences and those who have served a considerably long term like two decades or more are being reviewed.
She urged Kenyans to embrace alternative dispute resolutions to solve petty cases to reduce the voluminous backlog currently in the courts.
Muthoni lauded Kajiado county for leading the country in embracing such a mechanism, adding that local administrators could help arbitrate such matters rather than pursuing them in the courts.