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History of Kenya Prisons


The prisons system was introduced in Kenya by the British East Africa protectorate with the enactment of East Africa Prisons Regulations in April, 1902. At independence, the reforms in the penal system were strengthened with the enactment of chapters 90 and 92 to establish the Kenya Prisons, and Act (Cap 90) has since been reviewed, the last being 1977. The Borstal Act (cap 92) has also been reviewed, the last being in 1967.

The Kenya Prisons Service is a Department in the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government. It contributes to public safety and security by ensuring there is safe custody of all persons who are lawfully committed to prison facilities, as well as facilitating the rehabilitation of custodial sentenced offenders for community reintegration. It is a critical component of the Criminal Justice System which has the greatest impact on people’s liberties and freedom, particularly those who are in conflict with the law.

The Service became autonomous in 1911 and has since then grown progressively to a Department comprising of 118 institutions of which ninety four (115) are for adult offenders whilst three (3) (2 Borstal and 1 YCTC) are primarily for youthful offenders. The Service is empowered to exercise the mandate by Chapters 90 & 92, (Prisons and Borstal Acts), Laws of Kenya. The current prisoners’ population stands at 54,000 of whom 48% are pre-trial detainees whilst the remaining ones are sentenced prisoners.

The staff establishment stands at approximately 22,000 comprising of uniformed officers and auxiliary staff.