DPP pushes for plea bargain to decongest prisons, cut upkeep costs


Director of Public Prosecutions, Noordin Haji. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) is rooting for the adoption of alternative dispute resolution to decongest prisons and save Kenya some of the Sh5.5 billion used annually to feed prisoners.

According to the DPP, the government spends Sh270 daily to feed each of the 55,000 prisoners.

Now, the ODPP is encouraging 'plea bargaining' and 'diversion' of cases to be adopted on criminal matters, which can be legally dispensed with through the two mechanisms.

Rift Valley region head of public prosecutions Alloys Kemo said the public could embrace plea bargaining and diversion to help dispense quick justice and save the court users time, noting the mechanisms would help in cultivating harmonious living through reconciliation in the society.

"A plea bargain is a negotiated agreement between the accused and a prosecutor whereby the accused agrees to voluntarily plead guilty or no consent for a concession from a prosecutor in exchange by the DPP to drop one or more charges or reduce a charge to a lesser offence," explained Mr Kemo.

The capacity of prisons in Kenya is 26,687 but the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows that the daily average population of prisoners was 53,348 as of December 2019.

Out of these 29,796 were convicted inmates while 23,552 were remandees and by June 2019, the number of inmates rose by 1,667.

In Kenya, a plea bargain is guided by section 137A-O of the Criminal Procedure Code and the plea bargaining rules of 2018 and can be negotiated for murder, robbery with violence among others excluding sexual offences and crimes against humanity.

"Diversion is resolving criminal cases by removing the matter from the court system in deserving matters. It is an alternative to criminal prosecution," he said at the ongoing sensitisation on plea bargaining and diversification policies targeting prosecutors, State agencies, NGOs, the public in the North Rift region.

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