Majority of inmates at the Lang’ata Women Prison are fairly very young women who are ignorant of their rights or the law and who have in extension wasted their lives in crime without realizing the consequences.
One of the goals of Kituo’s prison paralegal trainings is to decongest correctional facilities by empowering the prisoners and remandees on self-representation in court, how to adduce evidence if any, how to cross examine witnesses, how to write their submissions, how to make mitigation statements, how to make interim applications such as those for bond, bail, and making applications for Community Service Order.
Based on the above needs, a paralegal training was conducted on Criminal law and procedures from the 14th to 22nd of March 2016 at the Lang’ata Women Prison to empower the inmates on their fundamental legal rights and self-representation in court by boosting their self esteem to represent themselves.
Education is the most powerful weapon used to bring about change and training inmates as paralegals helps them share this legal knowledge acquired with their fellow inmates which helps them to solve legal problems they might encounter.
A total of 40 participants were trained, 35 of whom were inmates and 5 prison constables. The inmates comprised of those on long sentences, pre-trial detainees charged with capital offences as well as the condemned.
The following topics were covered;
- Basics of Paralegalism.
- Introduction to Human Rights
- Bill of Rights (Chapter 4 of Constitution).
- Criminal Procedure Code Chapter 75 Laws of Kenya:
- Powers of Court
- Provisions relating to all Criminal investigations
- Mode of taking and recording Evidence in Trials
- Procedures in Trials before a Subordinate Court and High Court
- Sentences and Executions
- Self representation (Criminal Approach).
- Power of Mercy Act
- The Prisons Act
- Community Service Order.
The training was conducted by Kituo Advocates and Kituo Volunteer Advocates within Nairobi.
The training on Community Service Order was important was an important session as the inmates were taken through the process of applying for a community service as it presents some inmates with the option of serving from outside hence decongesting the prison. The newly acquired knowledge on the Bail and Bond Guidelines was equally important in the process of decongestation.
Giving inmates the tools to represent themselves in legal matters will increase access to justice and also empowers inmates to challenge situations of injustice and abuse of certain rights inside the prison.
Bringing prison constables on board was also important in creating awareness on inmate’s rights and their obligations to ensure the rights of the inmates are protected as well as offer oversight in ensuring that prison paralegals work with the officers and raise awareness about the activities of the paralegals in prison.
Finally Langata women prison Justice Center was successfully established on March, 23, 2016 with a colourful ceremony which was preceded by the graduation of 35 inmates and 5 prison constables who vowed to offer free legal aid to other inmates and use the acquired skills to ensure principles of justice are adhered to always.
The eventful ceremony was presided over by the Executive Director-Kituo Cha Sheria, Ms Gertrude Angote, Langata women Prison officer in charge Ms Olivia L.A.Obel and other dignitaries.
AGCP-Kituo Cha Sheria.