The presidential clemency law should be amended to enable pardoned convicts to secure gainful employment, a task force has been told.
The team, which is reviewing laws relating to the exercise of the “power of mercy”, sat at Embu Talent Academy and heard that the law should be more friendly to reformed convicts.
The criminal records of a pardoned person should be expunged from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) systems once the person is released through presidential clemency, stakeholders said.
"When convicts are pardoned, their criminal records are still retained by the DCI and when they seek certificates of good conduct so that they can be employed, they can't get them,” one of them said.
“Therefore, the convicts remain jobless and they can start committing the same crimes for survival."
Law Society of Kenya (LSK) Embu branch chairman Duncan Rukwaro underscored the need to amend the law for the benefit of convicts.
"Many of the convicts commit crimes due to poverty. They steal for survival and when they reform in prison and are [pardoned] their criminal records should be erased so that they can access certificates of good conduct from DCI without hindrances,” Mr Rukwaro said.
“By doing so the government will be helping the convicts who have changed to be good citizens."
The stakeholders also recommended that vulnerable people, including pregnant mothers, the elderly and are terminally ill serving life jail terms should be allowed to serve non-custodial sentences under strict supervision.
"The vulnerable people suffer and there is no need to confine them in cells as long as they have shown remorse," said Mr Ronald Kinyua.
Embu Resident Magistrate Dorcas Endoo thanked the government for coming up with the task force.
"This team is doing a good job. We support it," she said.
But she said a multi-sectoral committee where the LSK will have a representative should be put in place to monitor offenders released through the power of mercy and ensure they are reintegrated into the community and don't commit crimes again.
The stakeholders observed that human beings, if mentored well, can change from hardcore criminals to good people and the presidential clemency law should be refined to benefit them.
They also noted that the law, if well applied, will save the government significant resources.
"Prisoners spend Sh12 million daily on food and if more convicts change their behaviour and are released, the government will save funds that can be used in development projects," said task force secretary Stephen Gitau.
Every reformed convict should be freed from prison and be financed by the government to start an income-generating project, stakeholders said.