Oppress and Exploit: The prison industrial complex is about to get big in Kenya

by Wakili Liam
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EDITOR’S OPINION

US Black and White justice: A dead give away on why the judges rule this way but it not surprising they do this; sending black people into the prison system which is meant to waste their time, make them unlikely to get good jobs in future. There’s no heaven where things are great that justice will be done from. It is the prerogative of those alive to make earth livable and not be conned through the promise of some fanciful place in the clouds.

The prison industrial complex (PIC) is a term we use to describe the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems.

The country has been badly run for 8 years now and the proponents of that mismanagement have rebranded into ‘good Samaritans’ that have listened to the voice of the downtrodden and they don’t promise much. They offer what we already have in our depressed lives; wheelbarrows, handcarts, motorbikes and other jua kali artisan’s equipment.

Abraham Lincoln, the great US president said that what a life must be about is the ‘pursuit of happiness’. That happiness must then be about hope for a better future, therefore for a politician to promise the mundane, everyday-life artefacts is like a self –acceptance that they have failed.

Leaders must be separated by their manifesto, people must have a chance to interrogate the manifestos and chose which one to side with. It is most often a promise, a hope for the better.

But in the dilapidated Kenya, a new thing has emerged.

The class war that is ever simmering beneath the surface has made the oligarchs of Kenya aware that one day, they might be ate for lunch.

In the 16th century, Dutch people actually did that to their Prime Minister who they dismissed as a weakling. When Johan de Witt – the ‘Grand Pensionary’ (in effect, prime minister) of the Dutch Republic – was killed along with his brother in 1672, there are accounts of some among the mob taking parts of the bodies and eating them…In 1672 the Dutch Republic was at war with England and France. Many thought that Johan de Witt, the ‘Grand Pensionary’ – in effect, prime minister – of the republic had failed, and wanted strong leadership from the young Prince of Orange: Willem III, later William III of England.

The Dutch prime minister story in brief.

In Kenya, the hustler versus dynasty debate has opened the old wounds of sections of society which feels entitled to lead.

It is a dangerous trajectory that threatens to tear the country apart as the marauding gangs of poor people (nearly 40 per cent of Kenyans are very poor) will often not hesitate to ‘take a bite off’ a chunk off a supposed rich person so long as one person in the crowd shouts, that’s dynasty.

For the fear of a very disappointed electorate coming for the rich people, the govt has a new way of handling that. A thing that has worked well in USA; putting people who are disadvantaged behind bars so as to get cheap labour.

It couldn’t have come at a worse time. We have a kakistocracy. Incompetent leadership. Very myopic.

Jubilee regime has failed and it seems they listen too much to elite mentalism and I guess some evil-minded western power that fears a fall-out in this country. An adviser who when asked what to do with the huge young population (75.1% of the population: KNBS, 2019) saw an easier way out; send them to prison.

Instead of trying to straighten things, making it better than yesterday, Jubilee is happily on a slippery slope, no one is at the wheels and the easier route is to threaten poor people, subjugate them further, make them poor, show them hate and then jail them from young age.

That’s why a database of petty crimes/offenders is more urgent for them than that for sexual offenders that collect DNAs and put these monsters behind bars. They’d rather collect information on petty crimes and truancy by underage Kenyans who will in their adult lives fail to secure employment because of these because they’ll be denied a Certificate of Good Conduct.

The DCI which has a mandate to investigate crime and help put bad people behind bars finds an easy target in threatening people who are still learning what it is all about to be adult humans. It is easier than arresting Fred Matiang’i to answer to charges in the Sh3.8 billion Ruaraka land scam

Kenya Prisons Enterprise Corporation Order

On 2nd October, 2018, President Uhuru, therefore, signed the Kenya Prisons Enterprise Corporation Order bill creating a corporation that seeks to ‘unlock revenue potential of prisons’.

It doesn’t mean this wasn’t already happening, prisons in Kenya are used to manufacture vehicle number plates (never mind Jubilee gave this tender to a private firm which has been churning out distorted, low quality plates), seats for govt offices etc.

But the Kenya Prisons Enterprise Corporation Order wants to open that and manage it better, perhaps bigger, seeing that school kids who can just be taken for guidance and counselling, caned properly are now being threatened by Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) with a database that is documenting their crimes at school and at home.

A recent investigation by Nation Newsplex revealed that there are more pre-trial detainees incarcerated in Kenya than convicted prisoners; 90% of those in remand have been granted bail but cannot afford it even though more than half of the bails were set at less than Sh250,000 (roughly $2,500). In other words, there are immediate better outcomes for being rich and guilty than poor and innocent.

Mungai, C, (2018), Kenya’s New Prison Industrial Complex: Fundamental Flaws in Uhuru Kenyatta’s Plan to Make Jails Profitable, The Elephant, November 2018

For those who think it is a joke, look to the USA where the Black-American population is systematically kept at below 15 per cent of the total (shoot to kill is easily carried out by law enforcement), kept out of jobs or given jobs that cannot lift anyone out of poverty, arrested easily and sent to prison for more time than the rest of the other races.

This is the prison industrial complex where those sons and daughters of slave and slave owners that built USA through back-breaking in the past are in modern days find themselves on an uneven playing ground which doesn’t hesitate to send them to prison to work for free for private entities.

As for Kenya, what the Kenyatta wants is to make it look like 1945 Kenya where British and few Kenyan are the rulers, and all others are true slaving to make ends meet and that most don’t have time to raise their voice because of biting poverty and that if any is courageous enough to do so, they are hurriedly tried and sent to prison for longer periods even for petty crimes.

It looks like a joke now, sometimes christened as a theory of conspiracy until it starts to bite.

Kodhe Aruwa below here represents the thoughts of most downtrodden people, no hope, no critical thinking, just blubbering out. There’s a way we can raise our children, not through threatening them with prison. Kodhe Aruwa are those apologists that forget Chapter 37 of the Constitution which give the right to picket, petition and peaceably demonstrate for change.

When did Kenyans lose the verve to change their lot? Why?


Mahakamani News is Kenya’s top court reporting and crime coverage website. If you have a case that needs coverage, or if you are facing injustice from powerful forces, fired unfairly or reporting any corruption or relevant news pertaining judiciary etc please contact us via cases@mahakamani.news

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