Influence of Prison Life on Rehabilitation Program Uptake by Inmates in Kiambu County, Kenya
Mburu, Hellen Wairimu
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Kenyan prisons' primary objective is to rehabilitate the offenders by equipping them with selfdependence skills to avoid reoffending. The conditions under which inmates live are quite challenging and stressful; therefore, negatively affecting the rehabilitation program uptake by inmates. This study sought to examine the influence of prison life on men and women inmates in their rehabilitation process. The following objectives guided the study: to describe the environment in which inmates rehabilitation is implemented, to examine the effect of prison programs on inmates rehabilitation, to analyse the gender-related challenges that inmates encounter, and to identify gender-responsive strategies on the rehabilitation of inmates. The study employed the deprivation theory by Sykes (1958) and Bandura's Social Cognitive theory (1986). The study used a descriptive survey research design. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected using questionnaires, interview schedules, and Focus Group Discussions. This study targeted 500 inmates (both first time offenders and recidivists), 30 prison officers, and 4 key informants in Thika prison. The study first used stratified sampling to divide the population of inmates according to gender to get 300 men and 200 women inmates; then, stratified was used to subdivide the inmates according to length of imprisonment and simple random was employed in each stratum to pick inmates from jail register. Purposive sampling was further employed to select 20 men and 10 women recidivists from the prison register. The study used a sample size of 30% of the total population of men and women inmates and prison officers to get 90 men, 60 women inmates and 9 prison officers. Descriptive statistics such as percentages and mode were used to analyse quantitative data and were presented using tables and graphs. Qualitative data were analysed using themes and patterns formed and presented in narrative and verbatim forms. The study established that prison conditions were poor due to inappropriate accommodation status, inadequate food, and inappropriate health services contributing to inmates hardening. Moreover, inmates participated in elaborate prison programs which helped them ease the pain of imprisonment and assured them of employment after imprisonment making them hopeful. The study findings illustrated that both men and women inmates were dissatisfied because of visitation procedures, stigmatization and loss of employment. Women inmates were more affected by relationships and stigmatization while loss of employment heavily affected men. The study further revealed that the prison had good policies and programs for the inmates. However, the prison authority failed to clearly explain policies and practices that addressed the realities that men and women are biologically and socially different. This contributed to gender dissatisfaction contributing to reoffending. Therefore, the study recommended that courts should employ non-custodial sentences such as community service, probation sentences, fines, parole and bonding, and speed up delayed remand cases to ease prison congestion. The prison management should also sensitize inmates on the essence of the prison programs as they offer life skills which are supposed to help them when they go back to society. The government should improve the rehabilitative programs and more resources geared towards them. The prison authority should consider facilitating better visitation procedures to enhance familial relationships. Further, the government should set aside stipends to facilitate inmates to start a business after imprisonment. Finally, the prison authority should recognize that gender differences affect inmates' experiences and their rehabilitation process and, therefore, explain to the inmates their gender rights and provisions in prison. It is hoped that the study findings may enhance the on-going prison reforms to create a conducive environment for the correction of the inmates, both men and women. Moreover, the findings may urge the government to support rehabilitation program uptake to help reduce recidivism in the country.