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Kodiaga Maximum Security Prison

Kodiaga Maximum Security Prison. Touted as one of the worst detention facilities in the country, the conditions within the cold metal bars are almost indescribable.

The prison houses more than 2,650 inmates which is more than double its capacity. The buildings are old and dilapidated with rusted metal grills.

Worryingly, the prison is famous for its high suicide and murder rates. At one point in time, 10 deaths were registered in a span of two months.

Everyone in prison lives in a state of emotional and psychological fear which requires every inmate to threaten another because if they do not do so they will not escape being threatened by others. 

“It is too much when you have ten deaths in one prison within a period of two months. There must be something wrong in Kodiaga,” Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch once stated.

On February 19, 2020, a man (Joseph Wanyoike Kinyanjui), who had just been convicted of murder, died in Murang’a GK Prison. The post-mortem report showed he was strangled.

After his death a prison warder reported to Murang’a Police Station that an inmate had died at the prison’s dispensary where he was receiving treatment for ”alcohol withdrawal syndrome”.

According to the OB number 24/9/2/2020, Kinyanjui, aged 35, had no physical injuries save for traces of blood around the nasal area.

His is the story of countless others whose condemnation to what are essentially supposed to be correctional facilities, only ends up damaging them even further. 

Official figures for deaths in prisons are scarce, but in October 1995 a government minister stated that more than 800 prisoners had died in the first nine months of the year. 

In 1997 at least 630 prisoners reportedly died, the majority from infectious diseases. Information about the conditions in Kenyan prisons is limited because access to prisons is denied or severely restricted.

Notably, about 50% of Kenya’s prisoners are pre-trial detainees or those held in remand as they await trial – people legally considered innocent.