NAIROBI, September 18 – Newly appointed Prisons Commissioner Isaiah Osugo faces an uphill task of reforming a department that was recently judged as corrupt and ill managed.
Barely a week in office, Osugo already knows that he would need to do more than just rhetoric to improve the state of affairs at the penal facilities, in line with his pledge of September 10 – when he took up office – to turn around the prisons department to attain world-class status.
“I know the challenge ahead of me is enormous but I am prepared to overcome it. I am determined and I know I will achieve my goals,” said the man who President Mwai Kibaki picked from the police department on September 4.
Top on his agenda would have to be establishment of better housing for prison warders who went on strike three months ago to protest, among other things poor pay and deplorable working conditions.
Osugo told Capital News that he would first study a strategic plan (2005-2009) prepared by his predecessor Gilbert Omondi, and which is yet to be implemented.
The new prisons commander is a career police officer who rose through the ranks at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID). Prior to his transfer to prisons, Osugo was a Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of the CID in Nairobi Province.
To fit his new status, Osugo was recently promoted to the rank of Senior Deputy Commissioner of Police I same as that of deputy police boss Lawrence Mwadime, Administration Police Commandant Kinuthia Mbugua and General Service Unit Commandant Mathew Iteere.
“Prisoners are part of the society. They must live like human beings because they are in a correctional facility,” he said, following the words closely with an appeal to the public to accept convicts who return home from prison.
“Unless these people are accepted back home, they will feel neglected and end up becoming repeat offenders. That is why they need to be accepted by their families. We have experienced many cases where people released from prison end up hanging themselves,” he said.
Osugo also intends to increase food production in prison farms to make the facilities food-sufficient.
“I will ensure they double up on food production. We can spend money to purchase other necessities. It is all about management and proper planning,” he said.
All the 114 prison facilities in the country have farms that are managed by prisoners who practice subsistence farming.