Why State wants Kisii main prison out of town

Kisii Main GK Prison

Principal Secretary Correctional Services Mary Muthoni (front left) taken on a tour of facilities by the Kisii Main GK Prison in-charge Oliver Rabondo (front right) during her visit to the Kisii Main Prison in Kisii in March 29, 2023.

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group

The State wants to relocate the Kisii Main GK Prison from town to Nyanturago, a rural place within Nyaribari Chache constituency.

This is in a bid to open up spaces for the expansion of the town and initiate development projects, which are believed to be of more value to Kisii residents.

Correctional Services Principal Secretary Mary Muthoni was on a fact-finding mission on Wednesday in Kisii as plans to relocate the prison kicked off in earnest.

Kisii town is characterised by heavy congestion, high population, and diminishing land sizes, making it impossible for the county and national governments to initiate development projects.

Ms Muthoni said her mission for touring Kisii was to effect a presidential directive by President William Ruto, requiring the Ministry of Interior - State Department for Correctional Services to begin relocation of the Kisii Prison.

“The President was here the other day, and he directed that we look into modalities on how we can move the prison to another land, maybe more viable and expansive. In the new land, it will be possible to do farming and other things,” said Ms Muthoni.

Last week, President Ruto toured Kisii for three days where he met elected leaders and promised a number of development goodies.

Kisii Governor Simba Arati proposed that the main prison in the county be relocated to Nyanturago to create space for the expansion of the already congested town.

The county government has identified more than 15 acres of land there.

"I have heard what your governor Simba Arati said about the relocation of our prison from town. We have done it in other areas and I know it's possible. I have directed the concerned department to look into the issue and I assure you that already, we have some government officers on the way," said President Ruto.

Mr Arati had expressed frustration that the Prison which is at the heart of Kisii town was eating into prime land which can be used for development.

He said many projects are pending in Kisii town due to the unavailability of land.

Ms Muthoni called for concerted efforts in solving land-related issues in Kisii, in a bid to help decongest the main prison in the county.

She said the facility has many offenders from petty land cases, yet it would be different had their issues been solved at the family level in good time.

The PS also noted that correctional facilities across the country were congested with petty offenders because people are too quick to take even petty offences to court, instead of talking it out at the lowest level of society.

The PS held a brief meeting with various stakeholders at the Kisii County Commissioner's office. Among the stakeholders present were Kisii Central Sub County Commissioner Mr Wilberforce Kilonzo, Police Commander Charles Kases, Kisii Prisons In-Charge Oliver Rapando and County Criminal Investigations Officer Linah Kabaila.

The security team was joined by Kisii County Secretary James Ntabo, County Lands Executive Ms Grace Nyarangi and other officers in the department.

"Kisii particularly has very many cases pertaining to land. We can reduce the petty offenders in our correctional facilities by sensitising our people on the need to solve small cases before they get to court," said PS Muthoni.

She said it is important for the National Government Administration officers to involve the prison's department in their barazas so that they can have opportunities to talk to residents.

"We need our people to understand the law clearly. We need them to know what led their relatives, friends and neighbours to prison so that they do not repeat the same mistakes," said Ms Muthoni.

The PS is on a tour of Prison facilities countrywide as she seeks to understand various challenges faced by prisoners and staff.