• In February, it was reported that the title deed for the prison facility had gone missing
• Task force has since collected data on the number of parcels of land with no title deed
The national government is making progress in claiming back land grabbed from the 800-acre Shimo la Tewa prison.
In February, it was reported that the title deed for the prison facility had gone missing.
Visiting the facility on Wednesday, Correctional Services PS Salome Beacco said a lot of prison land was invaded by the public.
"We have already formed a task force and we have collected data on the number of parcels of land that have no title deed," she said.
"We are engaging our counterparts in the Ministry of Land to assist in getting titles of all prison parcels. We are trying to get titles to our land, to secure our land because a lot of our lands have been invaded."
During her visit to assess and inspect the prison facilities, staff quarters and prison quarters in Mombasa, the PS said the state has plans to improve the prison industries and revive the livestock sector.
She said the prison sector has a lot of industries, including tailoring, carpentry, welding and prison farms, where they plant a variety of crops, rear livestock like pigs, goats and sheep.
The state is also trying to find ways to tap into vocational training schools (TVETs) to upscale the prison industries.
"One of the reasons why we toured Mombasa was to inspect ongoing projects and stalled projects, assess reasons why the projects are stalled and assess what can be done to improve the facilities and the industries," Beacco said.
"The President has repeatedly insisted that we must build Kenya by buying Kenyan products. Therefore, we call upon the public to come and support us."
The PS said prison industries are some of the best producers of furniture in Kenya.
And because a levy has been put in place to increase the cost of importing goods, they urge the public to support because part of the income will eventually go back to training the inmates in vocational training and ensure they get certificates that are NITA affiliated.
"Once the inmates reform and leave the prison, they will be able to plug into the Hustler Fund, have seed capital and start entrepreneurial activities and other enterprises," she said.
"The government is more emphatic that we need to create more jobs. And this is after equipping them with the necessary skills."
The PS said in the correctional service sector, they see that as an opportunity they can improve and upscale vocational training as well as the formal education.
This is because they have schools and some of their inmates are actually attending universities.
"Many of our inmates are being equipped with the skills of tailoring, carpentry, welding and digitisation, a space we are also really going into," she said.
The TVET programme will be done in prisons because these are convicts and, for security reasons, they cannot have them exposed or open to the public.
This is primarily for the inmates, using the approach of reformation and rehabilitation.
"They can be equipped with skills and go out there and become employers rather than being employed," she said.
"So that is something we are doing, but because of our security nature, we cannot open it to the public."
During her interaction with the inmates, she said that some of the concerns they raised was visitation rights, something which has already been revived and resumed and prison uniforms which they will work on.
"We have a very large clothing industry in Shimo La Tewa Maximum Prison, and I have found out that they are actually producing the uniforms," she said.
"Already, they have produced 700 out of the 900 targeted, so we hope to continually increase that production as we also try to look into the possibility of bringing them mattresses.
"I have seen it is a hot area, probably they will not need blankets."
She said so far, they have not had many complaints of congestion in the cells because the land under the Shimo la Tewa Maximum prison is quite large.
Although the ratios are not optimal, she said they are looking into increasing the number of wards.
The department is also working with the National Commission on the Administration of Justice to see how more of the remandees can be attending court from outside.
"I also got an opportunity to visit the county commissioner, and I am happy to report I was informed that the idea of an alternative justice system is very vibrant in Mombasa," Beacco said.