Stories

Compassionate Release Campaign Update

2.6.2020

Compassionate Release Campaign Update

We've raised enough for 66 men & women to be reunited with their families.

In April, we launched a compassionate release campaign to decongest prisons in Kenya and Uganda ahead of Covid-19. Thousands of nonviolent offenders fill these prisons. People who are simply too poor to pay a fine. We know 600 people by name. And we asked you to support them by paying these small fines.

The campaign response has been swift and consequential. We’re already releasing nonviolent offenders and reuniting them with their families. We want you to see some of the faces and hear the stories of a few prisoners most recently released. And we still need your urgent action. Hundreds more await their chance to go home as the pandemic makes its way to these defenseless communities.

MWIKALI
In custody since June 2018, Mwikali was the first beneficiary of funds from the compassionate release campaign. She was charged with stealing a mobile phone her daughter brought into the family home, and given a fine she could never afford. After nearly two years in prison, Mwikali has now been reunited with her 11 and 13-year-old children.
GILBERT
Gilbert was in remand for eight years – not yet convicted of a crime – then given a life sentence. His first lawyer was not competent enough to represent him, so he handled his own appeal with the help of fellow paralegals. Gilbert was able to get his sentence reduced, and his time already spent in prison factored into the judge’s final ruling. Gilbert is a first-year LLB student at the University of London via Justice Defender's education program. And as of today, he'll continue his legal education at home, alongside his wife and family.
MUSEMBI
Orphaned at age 12, Musembi (left) was living hand-to-mouth and caring for his younger siblings. He was convicted for possessing stolen goods – shoes he would not have purchased had he known the consequences ahead. Musembi worked at a hotel prior to his arrest, and he intends to return there to work now that he has been released. Justice Defenders paralegals Margaret Njeri, Edward Muchiri, and Kelvin Wekesa escorted Musembi home, where he was welcomed by his family.
ANN
A 27-year-old mother of two, Ann worked as a bartender to support her family. She was enthusiastic about her job, and charged with selling alcohol before official opening hours. We were able to pay her fees, and see her release in late May. She is now home with her children.
ONESMUS
Charged with breaking and stealing, Onesmus pleaded guilty and served his time. Though he still could not pay his fine. He spent his days reflecting on his offense, and hopes to use the knowledge he acquired in prison to pursue his dream of becoming a gospel musician. Onesmus is pictured with Justice Defenders paralegals after learning he had been given another opportunity at life.
ALICE & REGINA
Alice is a 23-year-old single mother, and Regina a 52-year-old mother of eight. Both women had resorted to the sale of illicit alcohol to earn a living. Regina, because she was too old and frail to farm. As beneficiaries of the compassionate release campaign, Alice and Regina were released together from Thika Women’s Prison – and reunited with their children.
CECILIA
Cecilia is a single mother who received M-Pesa funds to her mobile phone by mistake and used them to pay her 10-year-old son’s school fees. Cecilia expresses high remorse, and is sincerely grateful for the campaign giving her a chance to be back home with her son.
PIUS
Pius is a 50-year-old casual farm laborer, husband, and father of three. He was arrested for accepting yams as payment for a day’s work, after police accused him of stealing the yams and he couldn’t afford to give them a bribe. Pius has been in custody since November 2019, prior to Covid-19 reaching Kenya. He has been dreaming of returning home to find his family safe and well amidst the pandemic.
VERONICA
Veronica was charged with child neglect, and assessed a fine her family could not afford. Upon receiving news of her release, Veronica was overjoyed in a way that moved everyone – prisoners, paralegals, and prison guards – at Naivasha Women’s Prison to tears.