Restorative Prisoner Rehabilitation

Since 1994, RODI has partnered with the Kenya Prisons Service in rehabilitation of prisoners in 35 prisons in Kenya. We use a Restorative Prisoner Rehabilitation Approach, which targets the prisoner, the community and the victim(s) to enhance reintegration and reduce the rate of re-offending.

In 2004,RODI organized an international workshop called Restorative Justice: Good Prisoner Rehabilitation Practice. The workshop brought together senior prison officers and NGO representatives from six African countries: Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, South Africa, and Cameroon. Other visitors came from the UK. The workshop came up with the Nairobi Declaration which endorsed RODI’s Restorative Prisoner Rehabilitation Approach that targets the offender, the community and as much as possible the victim.

RODIs main concern is the way prisoner rehabilitation is conducted in and out of prisons. Many prisoners leave correctional institutions worse off, poorer, hardened and stigmatized, only to be rejected by the society; and through re-offending or trumped up charges return to prison, and the cycle of recidivism continues. Kenyan prisoners have a high turnover rate, a short average stay and high return rates.

RODI is accredited by National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) to offer vocational and technical training in sustainable agriculture, agro-processing and value addition and production of hygiene and domestic products. The skills provided are intended to enhance self-esteem, hope in life, self-support and to endear ex-prisoners to the community besides enabling them to contribute towards community and national development.

The rehabilitation process has the following interventions:

  • Recruiting prisoners to participate in both theory and practical training in rehabilitation programs under RODI
  • Establishing of training and demonstration units for practical training in agro-ecology; agro-processing and value addition; and production of hygiene and domestic products
  • Providing psychosocial support to prisoners and their families as well as with those offended to restore, initiate healing and forgiveness; a critical tool to facilitate effective reintegration

Each year, 1600 Prisoners at the ages of 15 to 35 (youth) and as well as those above 35 years serving their final years/months are equipped with vocational skills in agro-ecology, agro-processing and value addition, production of hygiene and sanitation products as well as other life skills to prepare them for community reintegration and self-reliance through initiation of income generating activities

Prisoners are targeted to positively contribute to crime reduction in the Country through effective rehabilitation and reintegration. The problem analysis states that the re-offending rate in Kenya stands at 47%, meaning 47 out of 100 prisoners released from prison re-offend within a period on one year out of prison. This is greatly attributed to the weakened rehabilitation and reintegration support systems in and out of prison as well as the continued community misunderstanding on the purpose of prisoner conviction. Community members and relatives fall short of information on the rehabilitation and support systems being undertaken by the Kenya Prisons Service in collaboration with Civil society organisation to effective rehabilitate and  reintegrate to the community, therefore most of them facing stigma, rejection, and discrimination as well as lose of means of self-support upon release. This leads to ex-offenders going back to prison through committing crimes or through tramped- up charges. The project tries to break the viscous cycle of poverty crime and re-offending.

The intervention has a care-giving agent’s approach where prison officers are also trained in order to influence change and sustain rehabilitation activities by effectively cascading information and skills as peer educators within and outside the prison facilities. The Prison Liaison officers play an important role in mobilization and recruitment of trainees as well as providing technical support during training and ensuring project sustainability in terms of continuous training of prisoners and maintenance of initiated technologies in the agro-ecological demonstration and training site.