Success Stories-Lang’ata Women’s Prison

Access to Justice / Success StoriesFebruary 28, 20180 CommentsKituo Cha Sheria

Success Stories from the Lang’ata Women’s Prison Justice Centre

Langata women prison paralegals during the graduation  at the Lang’ata Women maximum prison

Article 48 of the Constitution of Kenya specifically advocates for access to justice for all. Kituo Cha Sheria has established Prison Justice Centres that are managed and run by trained prison paralegals to assist them self-represent in court, offer legal advice to the other inmates, educating them on criminal law and guiding them on how to confidently represent themselves in Court and empower the entire prison community. Kituo has played a big role in supervising these centres and providing technical assistance in legal matters that need the attention of an advocate. To date, Kituo has established Prison Justice Centres at Shimo La Tewa Men & Women Prisons, Lang’ata Women’s Prison, Kamiti Maximum Prison, Kodiaga, Nyeri Main (King’ong’o) G.K. Prison, Kakamega GK Prison and Meru GK Prison. As a result, inmates and Prison Officers have been able to offer legal aid services to inmates and from 2010 to date 10,000 + inmates have been released following interventions by trained paralegals. The Prison justice centers have significantly contributed to the decongestion of prisons and at the same time made justice accessible to those who could not afford the services of an advocate.

Kituo is always pursuing access to justice for all and through the prison paralegals model Jane Nyambuye Manyonge speaks on the results from the Lang’ata Women’s Prison…

“Walking down the memory lane, 2016 hitherto we, as Langata Women MaximumPrison have benefited a lot  from Kituo Cha Sheria through legal awareness. Your vision and mission are actually based on the spirit of charity. Thus, to help the poor and the marginalized. We sincerely appreciate you for taking your precious time and money, setting aside your other commitments to facilitate the just ended workshop.” These were the exact spoken words of Jane Nyambuye Manyonge, a qualified prison paralegal during the just concluded prison paralegal graduation which saw 30 inmates and 10 prison officers awarded certificates after a week-long intensive paralegal training at the Lang’ata Women’s prison.

Jane Nyambuye Manyonge, a qualified prison paralegal giving her speech during the just concluded prison paralegal graduation at the Lang’ata Women maximum prison.

In her speech, that was full of gratitude, Jane on behalf of the other paralegals testified that they have been empowered through Kituo’s legal awareness programmes.

She added that they have acquired basic knowledge of law to that they now use to assist their clients; (a term they use to refer to their fellow inmates) with cross-examination questions, making submissions especially to clients who do not have advocates, encouraging clients to develop self-confidence during self-representation in court as well as drafting their defense and mitigation. According to Jane, the paralegals are no longer ignorant of their legal rights. She attested this based on the success stories that they have received from the prison justice center where they attend to their clients twice a week that is on Tuesday and Thursday every week.
“The paralegals are competent of doing the whole trial process, draft appeals, petitions, memorandums, revisions on review and review on appeals as well as giving legal aid and awareness to other inmates.” Said Jane.

Success Stories
With a broad smile on her face, Jane presented a number of success stories that they have documented at the prison justice Centre. “Our efforts have borne fruits {pause} and as such we have had many success stories the latest one being in this month February, 2018 where we saw four (4) of our fellow inmates walk scot free out of the prison gate through the A.D.R. initiative. Some cases have been terminated and the accused person’s acquitted through the paralegal aid. Best example is one Mary Kavetsa who was charged with murder. The prison paralegals played an instrumental role in helping her draft her defense which went through successfully. She was then acquitted. Olivia Mutheu another inmate who had 3 counts of roberry with violence and had no advocate to represent her in Court was also another one who benefited from the paralegal services freely. The paralegals assisted by taking her through the whole trial process, questions to ask before the Court and other legal advice. She was acquitted of all charges. Rahab Nyawira who is also a certified paralegal, had one file with three counts of roberry with violence. She was able to represent herself in court and was acquitted of the two counts and the third count was reduced to a lesser charge of handling stolen goods; which she got two years.
Pauline Mbugua, also a prison paralegal, was facing seven charges. She has used the knowledge she gained through the Kituo paralegal refresher training in prison to battle it out and argue her case in Court.  Pauline who represents herself in Court has been acquitted of five (5) charges and now has two files to go.”

Challenges Faced by Inmates in their Pursuit for Justice…
Jane noted that most of pre-trial inmates have no charge sheets thus making it difficult to assist them. She added that most of the inmates are also illiterate and do not only understand their rights but also the court process, what is required from them and of them hence this delays proceedings and judgments. Most of the inmates also cannot afford to hire advocates to represents them. All these put together most times lead to delayed justice or unfair judgment.

Kituo Cha Sheria

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