Small industry thrives behind high prison walls
Posted Monday, June 11 2012 at 18:37
Even a life sentence cannot stop Jeremiah Kabogo from supporting his family financially. Every three months, he sends his wife and seven children some money to cater for their needs, thanks to the income from his carpentry and tailoring work.
He is among prisoners serving long and life sentences at the Kibos Main Prison in Kisumu who have decided not to let imprisonment affect their productivity.
“I have been a prisoner for the last 19 years. I was condemned by the State but am now serving a life sentence following the pardon by President Kibaki in 2008,” Mr Kabogo said.
He works at the prison’s upholstery section during his free time, making various items that he sells to make money which he sends to his wife in Eldoret.
In mid-May, he sent home Sh8,000 to pay school fees for his son. And thanks to his entrepreneurial spirit, his family does not have to bring him some items he needs as he serves his term. He buys them at the prison kiosk.
He and 20 of his colleagues meet at the hobbies and handcrafts department of the prison to make several items on order by prison officers and other customers.
After completion, the prison, through the officer in charge of industries, sell the items at a set price.
“15 per cent of the total of what the item costs goes to the inmate’s account through the prison’s earning scheme and he can withdraw it when he wants by making an application for the release of the money,” said Nicholas Emaase, the officer In-charge of the Kibos Main Prison.
Once a prisoner shows interest in handicraft, the Prison Admission Board takes him through an examination to determine if he is capable of doing the job.
“His health, capability and interest are analysed and his history is also taken to determine if he can work at the prison’s industry department,” Mr Emaase said.
Studying the prisoner’s past employment or nature of the activities he engaged in before landing in prison helps the board to know where he will be placed.
The government gives every corrective facility, an Authority to Incur Expenditure, where it purchases materials that are used by the industrial section.
This allows the prison to engage inmates in corrective activity and teaching them skills through which they can generate income for themselves and revenue for the prison.
The inmates working at the industries make uniforms for the disciplined forces, furniture for the prison and other items for the state.
“From their performance, discipline and grades, they are allowed to join others at the hobby department, where they dedicate around two hours of their free time to work on their items, which generate income for them,” said Moses Amakobe, the officer in charge of industries at the prison.