Families with relatives released on bail or bond, but are still in prison, have been urged to support them.
Murang’a prison officer in charge Bison Madegwa said hundreds of prisoners in the facility are there because they lack minimal bonds and fines.
He said many families with people in prison fail to bail them out, leaving them to serve their terms or stay in remand until their cases are determined.
This, Madegwa said, has caused a severe congestion in the men’s prison. The facility has more than 700 inmates, despite having the capacity for 300.
“Ninety-nine per cent of inmates in this prison are from Murang’a and were ordered released on bonds of less than Sh50,000. But their families refuse to bail them out,” Madegwa said.
He said many of the prisoners become jailbirds and lose interest in freedom because they lack support from their families.
The officer said it is important for families to know that prison is not the end of life and that their jailed relatives can reform and become better people.
“Most of these people should be out there working to support their families, instead of spending months on end here because of petty offences.
He said the prison is now overstretched and that the money being used to feed and treat them should instead be channeled into development projects.
Madegwa also appealed to prisoners to change their lives for the better.
He said the facility trains them in carpentry and farming to enable them sustain themselves once they are out of prison.
In October last year, 15 inmates including a capital offence suspect, graduated with diplomas in theological studies after undergoing a one-year course sponsored by the Presbyterian Church of East Africa.
Madegwa said these courses help the inmates to reform and channel their energy into more constructive things.
He spoke in the prison on Saturday after retired army officers from Murang’a county visited the facility.
The retired officers who have formed the Defence Old Comrades Association visited the prisoners to celebrate the New Year with them.
Association chairman Joseph Marubu said they formed the group to improve their welfare in 2010, but concentrate more on assisting the needy in society.
“We have also been visiting schools and hospitals helping in cleaning and planting trees. We also donate food to the poor twice a year,” he said.