NAIROBI, July 24 – The Prisons Department defended itself Thursday against accusations of corruption and poor management by a probe committee.
Prisons Commissioner Gilbert Omondi also objected to the recommendation for a complete overhaul of the top prisons management after a report revealed rot in the correctional system.
On Wednesday, the committee chaired by former Mwatate MP Marsden Madoka proposed structural revamping of the prison service by hiring the top management from outside the prison ranks.
The Madoka Report also called for the prosecution of those who masterminded a recent strike by prison warders, describing it as a threat to national security.
The officers went on strike in April protesting over poor pay and a hostile work environment. The crippling boycott prompted the appointment of the taskforce by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.
The report on Kenya’s prisons further recommends the dismissal and prosecution of top prisons officers for corruption, dereliction of duty and sexual harassment.
According to the report, prison officers confessed to paying bribes in order to get promoted, while female officers cited demands for sex in exchange for promotions.
Many of the warders said they receive little supplies from their employer, forcing them to buy uniforms from their colleagues in the military and the police.
Omondi however defended the integrity of the prisons staff saying that the report did not touch on all their positive points and achievements.
He described the prison staff as hardworking and further termed the allegations as baseless.
“As the Commissioner and my team, we are doing our level best. It may be that there is something more detailed, but I can say I am very confident with my team and they are giving positive results,” he stated.
Commissioner Omondi further called for the recognition of prison industries as a source of economic development.
“Our Industry should be training and they should be also producing revenue to the government,” commissioner Omondi pointed out.
He added: “We have to change because if we do not change, we will suffocate and die.”
Kenya’s private sector has also faced criticism for making donations to inmates and organising beauty pageants while doing little for prison warders.
A mobile phone racket involving death-row inmates was recently uncovered in the country’s major prisons.
Police investigations indicated that inmates smuggled the communication equipment to run an extortion and fraud racket that had spread to East, Central and Southern Africa.