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Hope Restored in a Second Chance.

As the day was breaking on Friday 27th Jan, Joseph Kang’ethe knew that his long-awaited day had arrived. He could smell the freedom that he long desired for almost two decades that he had been behind bars.  He had dreamt of this day and even fantasized about it all the time in his mind. He so long desired it.

And at midmorning, the gates of Nakuru men’s prison squeaked slowly and opened him to the horizon of all possibilities where he could see all the things that he had hoped and dreamt of past the prison walls. This was it! With just a suitcase containing his clothes and with a novel in hand, he took the first step towards his freedom. Mr. Kang’ethe was arrested in 2005 but he remained on remand up until 2009 when he was convicted and found guilty by a court in Molo.

(Pic. Kang'ethe leaving Nakuru Main Prison)

In prison, he had taken up vocational courses which he hopes will help him gain income and speed his reintegration.  “I have gained skills in metal works, leather works, and also tailoring which I hope will come in handy when I settle at home,” said Mr. Kang’ethe while addressing journalists outside the prison gates. 

With the glaring fact of inadequate resources, he called on well-wishers to help him get a sewing machine so that he can also teach other young people how to sew as he gets his livelihood. “I will start my tailoring shop and I ask people of goodwill to help me get a sewing machine, I want to pass this knowledge to young people as I caution them against engaging in crime,” he noted.

 Prison officers described him as a reformed and reliable man, traits that saw him granted the coveted “trustee” status in prison. (A trustee is a trustworthy and well-disciplined inmate who leads and mentors the others to ensure order in the daily activities in prison.)

Joseph was one of the Crime Si Poa beneficiaries in Nakuru Men’s Prison. He religiously attended the pre-release psychosocial and wellness classes run under our prison centric Phoenix program.

“Crime Si Poa has helped in my stay in prison, and they told me even when I go back home, I should strive to live harmoniously with others and stay in peaceful environments,” says Joseph.

A senior Prison Officer, Superintendent Odera described him as a transformed man: “I am happy and glad that Joseph is being released from Prison as a reformed man. We had elevated him to trustee status when he was here in prison,” he commented. “I urge the community to embrace him fully as he is transformed so that he can share his skills with other people.” Stated SP. Odera

After a 3 hours’ drive from prison accompanied by prisons and Crime Si Poa officials and battery of journalists, Joseph was received with jubilation and dances at their home in Kuresoi North. Overjoyed family members and friends could not hide their joy as they embraced their lost son who had been behind bars for almost 20 years. His 95-year-old mother was particularly delighted to see her son. “I’m glad that he came back home when I’m still alive and I can see him,” she said.

Crime Si Poa Phoenix program works in prisons and Borstal institutions in concert with the Prisons welfare and spiritual departments through a package of services including spiritual and psychosocial support, mentorship, entrepreneurship training, legal awareness and support services and talent development amongst others. This is all geared towards the reformation of those who have been in conflict with the law and their subsequent reintegration into the community upon release.

We thank our partners and The Answer Foundation for their support in the program

See links to the media coverage






Time to Abolish the Death Penalty is Now.

The 8th World Congress on the Abolition of the Death Penalty came to a grand close at the historic Berlin Town Hall Ballroom on 18th November 2022 with a clarion call to the retentionist countries to move with purpose to abolish the archaic practice. 

During the congress organized by the French based organization, Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (Together Against the Death Penalty) and attended by delegates representing 130 countries from across the globe, senior government ministers, youth, parliamentarians, jurists, and members of the civil society shared their different countries’ experiences in the abolition journey and best practices in championing for a death penalty free world. 

With Rwanda and Burundi, countries which have both undergone the worst genocide in the region having abolished the death penalty, and with the Zambian President and its parliament undertaking resolute measures to have the death penalty abolished in their country by the end of this year, Kenya, whose youth delegation stole the show at the World Congress, and which has had a moratorium on executions since 1987, should be well primed to claim its place in the high table of the abolitionist movement . 

Reports by both the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) and the Power of Mercy Advisory Committee (POMAC) indicate the unanimous public view as being for the abolition of the death penalty in Kenya. The reports capture feedback from Kenyans as being in favor of alternative sentences to the death penalty. 

Opening the Congress, themed “Let’s rekindle the abolitionist flame!” the German Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock. These sentiments were echoed by Ministers from across the world attending the congress.  

Moderating the youth plenary session at the congress dubbed “The New Abolitionist Generation – Transmission and Innovation”, Sylvia Morwabe, the Programs Director at Kenyan based NGO, Crime Si Poa emphasized that the fight for abolition involves both the younger and older generation and encouraged all to commit to adopting an inclusive and intersectional approach that involves supporting and building the capacity of young abolitionists to enable them carry out their actions and reinforce the fight towards achieving universal abolition. 

Speaking at the closing ceremony presided over by the Former French Minister of Justice Arian Gresillon, and during which he was honored to present the Courage Award to the winners; RACOPEM of Cameroon and Pakistan Justice Project, Crime Si Poa Executive Director Pete Ouko rallied the delegates to work in unison and push until all countries abolished the death penalty.  

Recollecting his journey on death row due to a wrongful conviction, Pete called on World leaders to focus more on restorative as opposed to retributive justice. He noted that available data proves that countries without the death penalty have progressive,  correctional criminal justice systems in practice and less violent crimes in general. 

Honored to be appointed as the local partner of ECPM in the global abolition movement, Crime Si Poa calls on His Excellency President William Ruto to lead from the front in this final push to have Kenya death penalty free.  

Crime Si Poa which holds the unique distinction of being the first NGO to be formed on death row, and is currently led by a death row survivor, works in the social justice space to improve access to justice for all while building community ownership around safety and security issues through proximate youth leadership and strategic partnerships with players in the criminal justice sector.


How Paralegal Training Helped Me Earn My Freedom

Fredrick receives his Paralegal Certificate from Maureen Ngarama from our access to Justice Program.

By Fidel Castro

Picture this…… no space to call your own, no choice on the kind of company to keep, same food, same faces, same routine for 300 days on the trot. Threat and suspicion looms everywhere, love becomes an abstract word, separation from family and friends is real.
This is the kind of experience and feeling Fredrick Odhiambo had to deal with while remanded for 10 months in prison. Stepping out into the streets of Nairobi and tasting freedom for the first time, Fred was awestruck at how quickly things can change. While in prison, he never had the idea that it was going to dawn brightly again.
I was meeting Fred for the first at the Crime Si Poa offices in Ngara, where he had come for debriefing and guidance after leaving the remand prison. He looked jubilant yet anxious, a little bit confused, yet optimistic. The mixed feeling was quite understandable for Fred had lost 10 months of his life for a crime he didn’t commit.

“I never knew I would ever be set free. I had no property to get a bond, neither did I have money to hire a lawyer. I felt crushed and my hope diminished.” Fred shares. “I lost trust with colleagues who threw me to jail for theft that I wasn’t part of. The thought of being innocent would literarily kill me every day. My dreams of joining a school and advancing my career crashed,” lamented Fredrick.

“I had not committed the crime, but because I had no resources to defend myself, I had to spend almost a year in one of the most challenging places on earth. Thanks to the paralegal training I received from Crime Si Poa, I gained legal skills that I used to defend myself in court and earn my freedom.” said Fredrick.

August 7, 2021, is a day Fredrick remembers with a lot of anger and pain. He had scheduled a meeting with the company’s accountant, to receive his wages. It was a day everybody in the workplace looked forward to. Unfortunately for Fred, this day quickly turned dark as he was arrested for allegations of stealing property worth millions of shillings from his employer. He was to spend the next 300 days in bouts of loneliness and many unanswered questions.

“I was just from burying my father when all this happened. I never had time to mourn and heal from the loss. I was innocently thrown into the dungeons and had to deal with both trauma and a situation I never expected. Sometimes life can be unfair, but I never despaired, all along I knew I was innocent and hoped justice will prevail,” said Fredrick.

While in the deep end, Frederick had to motivate himself, by joining various counselling groups and training in the prison, some of which were also run by Crime Si Poa.

This paralegal training, a partnership between Crime Si Poa and the Strathmore University Law Clinic, came in handy for Fred as he was adequately empowered with the requisite knowledge that saw him challenge his case in court and secure his way out of the confined walls of prison.

Being set free and seeking justice for a wrongful conviction was Fred’s main goal. Stepping out of the prison gates on the morning of 29th of July 2022 was healing. “I felt very relieved and offloaded when I stepped out; this was what I thought and dreamt of every single minute while I was locked up, I thank God I am finally here.” Says an elated Fredrick

Frederick Odhiambo represents a fraction of what many young people in Kenya go through on a regular basis. Many are serving sentences they were never supposed to serve. Several people are going through court cases without legal representation.

Clearly, there is much more that needs to be done in the criminal justice system to ensure access to justice for all. Feel free to learn more about our Access to Justice Program and how you can plug in and support.

The Crime Si Poa Access to Justice Program is underwritten by AIG Insurance, a leading global insurance company. AIG is committed to corporate social responsibility and to making a positive influence on the lives of communities. Considering the compelling need for pro-bono legal assistance and in recognition of AIG’s commitment to criminal and justice reform, the AIG Pro-bono program provides free legal services and other support to under-represented communities.

Paralegal Graduation

Paralegals Graduate with skills to foster Justice at the community level

Over 65 community paralegals in Kisumu and Vihiga counties have been awarded certificates after successfully completing a three-week paralegal training that has empowered them with legal skills to promote access to justice in their respective communities.

Under the Access to Justice program, the sheria mashinani project is aimed at bridging the legal gap existing among the underserved communities due to poverty and ignorance of the law. 

Speaking during the event held on Thursday, August 4, 2022, at Mama Grace Social hall in Kisumu, Sylvia Morwabe, Programs Manager, Access to Justice said a  lot of people in the communities get in trouble because they have little knowledge of the law. 

“The purpose of this training is to impact and empower community members especially the youth with legal skills and knowledge to increase access to justice.  The community paralegals will help the community better understand what the law entails and guide them on how to demand for better services and get help in times of crisis,”  explained Sylvia.

According to Hon. Justice Joel Ngugi, only 21 percent of Kenyans have access to the courts as a primary source of justice. He urged the group of paralegals to demystify the idea that justice can only be found in the courts and work to reactivate the exciting community justice systems to ensure easy access to justice.

“As we celebrate this milestone I call upon this team to be missionaries of justice  to ensure that justice can be accessed by all,” urged Hon. Justice Ngugi.

Crime Si Poa Chairperson, Wilfred Nderitu, accentuated the importance of conducting the training in underserved communities by pointing out the existing gaps and the role the team will play in addressing them.

“You are coming in to bridge a gap that has been there due to ignorance, poverty and bureaucracy by assisting those who don’t know their legal rights or lack access to a lawyer to attain justice,” He said.

County Criminal Investigation Officer (CCIO) Francis Wanjua urged paralegals to play the role of being a community guardian by utilizing the knowledge learned to guide those around them to stand for their rights. Stating that a trained society is easy to deal with.

“ We appreciated the work Crime Si Poa is doing in empowering young people to act as peer counsellors and reaching out to fellow youth who are the most affected by crime. I urged the youth to be ambassadors of peace in the coming election week,” said Njau.

Within just a few months the impact of the training has already manifested itself with the majority of the paralegals attesting to the role they have played in aiding community members access justice. Isaiah Munyala, one of the graduates, described how he has helped educate and advise different community members on arising issues, noting that the majority of his community is ignorant of the law.

“ So far, we have been able to advise on at least three different cases, one of which was successful. We can attribute this to the intensive training we have received from Crime Si Poa team,” he said proudly.

Michael Bala, another graduate, could not hold his excitement as he explained the positive influence the training has had.

“Before the training, I did not know the legal procedures to follow when dealing with child neglect and SGBV cases which are recurrent in my community.  Since the training I have been able to assist in multiple cases that have helped many families get justice,’ he expressed,

Paralegal Training

Celebrations as 40 Inmates Graduate as Paralegals

Celebrations at the Nairobi West Prison as 40 inmates graduated today as paralegals after a 2-week training under the Crime Si Poa, Access to Justice Program. The remand and convicted inmates have been awarded certificates after successfully completing the customized training aimed at equipping them with legal knowledge and skills to assist them as well as their colleagues in accessing justice.

“I am glad to be one of those graduating today. This not only gives us hope but also helps close the criminal justice gap. I feel like a lot needs to be done as far as crime awareness is concerned. Many inmates do not know which acts are considered criminal and which acts are not. Little effort has been put in place to ensure people get the knowledge on crime hence such initiatives as this are much needed in prisons, ” said an inmate (name concealed).

According to Sylvia Morwabe, Programs Director at Crime Si Poa, most inmates in Kenya do not have access to legal representation which adversely affects their trials. The training will thus help the inmates navigate the justice system better leading to fewer miscarriages of justice and wrongful convictions.

“Big congratulations to all graduates for successfully completing the set course. This has been an interactive class. With paralegal skills, the inmates will have an understanding of the law to ensure they get just and fair trials,” said Morwabe.

The training curated and conducted in partnership with the Law Clinic of Strathmore University covered key areas of the criminal justice system, including legal areas such as the trial process, essentials of a fair trial, law of evidence, appeals & reviews, amongst others.

“I appreciate Crime Si Poa for this initiative. There is great importance attached to how you present and conduct yourself while in court. Through the program, inmates have been equipped effectively in order to effectively handle their cases. We ask for more reading materials in order to advance this initiative in prison,” said Regional Commander, Henry Kisungu.

Speaking during the awarding ceremony, Deputy Public Prosecutor in the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions Ms.Emily Kamau, applauded the graduates for the milestone achieved in attaining legal know-how and encouraged them to continue with the pursuit to learn more.

“I have seen many people who have built successful careers having gone through prison. We know of Nelson Mandela among others. It, therefore, does not mean that this is the end, there is still a future for you all. ” She said.

Paralegal Training

Does the Law Matter for the Poor in Society 

Does the law only work for the rich? This is a statement that is often used among Kenyans and the majority of Africans in countries where access to justice is a nightmare. The years of constant injustice experienced by individuals and as captured by the media help brew this perception. For a very long time, many people have had to grapple with the idea that knowledge of the Law is utterly useless. 

Testaments from Inmates in various prisons that we work in have proved this statement to be untrue. The despair that comes with the lack of understanding of court proceedings, magistrate ruling and the impact of the sentence on their lives is heartbreaking.  

Unfortunately, due to an overburdened justice system, many accused persons often lack proper representation and are left to represent themselves in court, resulting in a miscarriage of justice. Many of them are left wishing they had done things differently in court, however only a few get that chance.  

As we continue to advocate for reforms in the criminal justice system, to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and their rights are protected, we also aim to educate incarcerated persons in different prisons on the law. Crime Si Poa (CSP), through the Access to Justice Program, spearheaded paralegal training in Nairobi West prison where 40 inmates have successfully trained for 1 week and are set to graduate today with legal skills.  

The much-needed training set to take place in over ten prisons CSP works in will enable inmates to effectively defend themselves to positively influence their ruling. The training which entails trail advocacy, writing appeals and reviews, court procedures, and sentencing will prepare remandees as they proceed with their trial processes.  

The paralegal training is also extended into the community, where CSP sensitizes members of the community on the importance of knowing the law and teaches them what the law entails, so that they may know how to live in its confines and learn the diverse ways to resolve conflict aside from the court to avoid prolonged cases.  

Paralegal Training

Empowering inmates with legal skills to defend themselves in court

Paralegal Training at Nairobi West Prison

Crime Si Poa, under its Access to Justice Program today concluded a two-week (13th to 24th June) paralegal training in Nairobi West Prison that consisted of 40 inmates, both those on remand and convicted persons.

The group was taken through the workings of the criminal justice system which included the trial process, essentials of a fair trial, law of evidence, appeals, and reviews among others, to help them provide better arguments for their cases and get better rulings.

Most inmates in Kenya do not have access to proper legal representation which negatively affects their cases resulting in harsh rulings or worst-case scenario wrongful convictions.

According to Sylvia Morwabe, Program Manager, Access to Justice, the training will empower the inmates with legal knowledge and enable them to effectively follow their cases as they undergo trial.

“The paralegal training, we have been conducting for the last 2 weeks at the Nairobi West Prison in partnership with Strathmore University Law Clinic will help inmates have a fair trial and better access to justice,” said Sylvia.

This training has been made possible by our partners AIG, Global Fund for Children, The Kenya Prisons Service, and the National Paralegal Society of Kenya.

“Thousands of innocent people who have gone through the prison system, have been discharged thanks to programs like this,” said Derrick a lawyer from Strathmore University Law Clinic as he encouraged the inmates to stay positive during the training.

Derrick, further stated that the training equips the inmates with the courage to appear before the court and arms them with the possible answers to arguments likely to be raised in court by the lawyers from the Director of Public Prosecutions Office.

Kalonzo a warden at Nairobi West Prison expressed the importance of paralegal training in equipping the inmates on how to handle the court process.

“From this training, I believe many of the inmates will learn how to answer questions and successfully represent themselves in court,” he said.

Nairobi West is the first prison we work in to benefit from paralegal training. Our goal is to reach 10 prisons and equip them with the much-needed knowledge and skills.

citizen TV

Urgent need to curb youth involvement in election violence 

The involvement of youth in election violence in Kenya has been on an increase, a worrying trend as the country nears elections. Politicians from different political parties vying for various positions in the August 9th election have been accused of ferrying youth to political opponent’s rallies to cause havoc and disruptions. 

Speaking during an interview with Sema Na Citizen TVon Friday,  afternoon, Halima Guyo, Project Officer, Crime Si Poa, cautioned the youth against being engaged in political violence due to the severe consequences that follow thereafter. 

“Every electioneering year we witness tens of youth if not a hundred jailed for political-related crimes in Kenya. Already this year a couple of young people are behind bars for such crimes. This can be avoided. Youth must stand for peace and instead ask for manifestos that will help alleviate their lives,” said Halima. 

She further urged the youth to take time and know about individual responsibility and the long-term effect of anything they do. Adding that the youth should avoid being used to committing political violence that will hurt their future employability.

Young people should look beyond elections and the little money they are being given to cause violence. You will need to have good conduct and reputation when seeking job opportunities. Do not allow political acts to put you in the bad books of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations”, added Halima. 

According to Kenneth Kigunda, Crime Si Poa, Communication Specialist Political Analyst, there is a need for the communities to build cohesion amongst themselves and with law enforcement for a speedier resolution of conflicts emerging from the high political temperature in the country.

“In this elections period, we must be on the lookout for people intending to cause trouble. We also need to stop politicians from transporting violence across borders as we have found out that most of those who commit political mayhem don’t come from the locations in which they happen,” lamented Kigunda.

Crime Si Poa is currently holding community forums and paralegal training sessions under Acess to Justice Program in partnership with the criminal justice system across the major cities in Kenya to create awareness among the youth on ways to mitigate crime. 

death penalty

Death Penalty- Dead in practice

The launch of a two-part report by The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) in partnership with the Death Penalty Project, on Tuesday in Nairobi is a huge milestone in the achievement of the abolition of the capital sentence campaign in Kenya.

The report shows that a majority of the Kenyan public is open to the abolition of the hang man’s noose law, as well as the country’s opinion formers, are overwhelmingly in favour of such change.

“In countries that retain the death penalty, governments often cite public support as a key argument against abolition, yet with Kenya, the findings of this research do not support that claim,” said Parvais Jabbar, Co-Executive Director, The Death Penalty Project.

Jabbar further stated that there has been a shift away from the death penalty across Africa, most recently in Sierra Leone, with new plans to abolish announced in Zambia and the Central African Republic.

“It is possible that Zimbabwe and Ghana too will make similar announcements by the end of the year. We hope that we will also see Kenya take steps to remove capital punishment soon and that our research can support policymakers as they consider this important issue,” he added.

Kenya is among the minority of countries that continue to retain the death penalty in law, yet it has not executed any person since 1987. After nearly 35 years without an execution, the new research that sheds light on public openness to abolition might help Kenya to abolish capital punishment.

 “The government should rehabilitate the inmates instead of putting them under the death penalty. This is not the only way to punish convicts. Instead, they should be reformed so they become better people in society. Everyone has the right to live. “We should respect life in any circumstance,” said Dr Raymond Nyeris, KNCHR, Vice Chairman.

He further explained the death penalty is inhuman and is contrary to human rights as life is a fundamental right of everyone.

In 2017, the country’s supreme court declared the mandatory death penalty unconstitutional and since the introduction of discretionary sentencing, the number of death sentences imposed has reduced. However, to date, over 600 people remain on death row.

abolition of the death penalty in east africa

An irreversible sentence that should be abolished in Kenya  

Have you wondered what happens to inmates on death row? Is the death penalty, whose punishment is to hang, still applicable in Africa amidst robust constitutions and ratified statutory laws? What if one was wrongfully convicted?

This among other human rights conversations emerged during a two-day seminar on the abolition of the death penalty in Africa held on the 30th and 31st May 2022 in Nairobi by ECPM (Together against the death penalty) in partnership with Crime Si Poa (CSP).

Speaking during the regional seminar that brought together abolitionist actors from six different countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone, Wilfred Nderitu SC, Chairperson at Crime Si Poa, called for the abolition of the death sentence in Kenya and Africa at large stating that one of the greatest risks of the Death Penalty is that it is an irreversible sentence.

“Innocent persons are at risk of being put on death row for fabricated allegations. We have had instances where people have been wrongfully convicted and consequently face execution. This is mostly witnessed in countries that are going through political war, violence and instability,” said Nderitu.

His statement was affirmed by a powerful testimony from Susan Kigula a former death row inmate from Uganda. Kigula was sentenced to death but later pardoned. She was wrongly accused of murdering her husband and her sentence was based on a testimony given by a three-year-old witness. Her traumatic experience led her to be a champion in the fight for the abolition of the death penalty in Uganda.

Despite such powerful testimonies and arguments, various countries in Africa are still unable to pass a bill to abolish the death penalty due to key challenges faced among them the lack of support from the public.

In countries such as DRC, citizens believe that the death penalty discourages criminals from committing massacres. Despite the lack of proof, such sentiments are the root cause of the reluctance by governments to be abolitionists.

 According to Samson Omondi of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, there is a need for abolitionists to make the death sentence abolition conversation all-inclusive to gather support from the public. 

“In most cases, the conversation against the Death Penalty is led by lawyers. Let us broaden the conversation to the public to ensure that our society is part and parcel of the Abolition of the Death Penalty,” he said.

Despite a majority of countries in Africa still enforcing the death penalty, most states consider the death penalty a human rights violation that poses a substantial risk. The African continent has shown remarkable reform speed on the abolition of the death penalty issues over the past decade.

“Since 2015, six African countries have abolished the death penalty. Despite a de facto moratorium, The EU believes that Kenya should take steps to abolish the death penalty once and for all,” stated Henriette Geiger, Ambassador of the European Union (EU) in Kenya.

The two days seminar included parliamentarians, human rights institutions, civil society representatives, actors in the criminal justice system, former death row inmates as well as youth in the fight of making Africa the next abolitionist continent.