The government has freed 4800 inmates to decongest the prisons as part of its efforts to fight the spread Coronavirus (COVID-19), the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) has said.
In a statement, NCAJ said all the prisoners had been incarcerated for petty offences. The inmates were serving jail sentences of less than six months.
The council noted that new prisoners are being isolated for the requisite 14 days in a bid to prevent the outbreak of the contagious virus in correctional facilities.
The government’s directive on social distancing, the council said, is being observed to the letter with movement of prisoners restricted. Prison visits have also been suspended.
Other measures the prison department has put in place in the fight against COVID-19 include reducing the facilities workforce to a bare minimum with visits to staff quarters also suspended.
Yesterday, Chief Justice David Maraga said the High Court had in the last two weeks received files of inmates who are petty offenders jailed for periods of less than six months and those remaining jail term of less than six months.
“The files were presented to the High Court for review. This has resulted in the release of 4800 inmates significantly helping to decongest the prisons. The exercise is continuing,” CJ Maraga said.
The CJ called on the police to avoid arbitrary arrests and unnecessary detention of suspects for minor offences like loitering and causing disturbance.
Last month, while suspending mentioning of criminal and civil cases, Maraga said new arrests will be dealt with in police stations except for serious crimes.
“The judiciary will forthwith scale down court activities throughout the country over the next two weeks effective tomorrow, March 16, 2020, in order to allow further consultations and design appropriate measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” said Maraga.
COVID-19 has claimed one life in the country with 81 individuals infected. Three have, however, recovered from the virus.