Legal Aid Clinic Set Up at Kamiti Medium Prison 

By Levis Jilani 

In the heart of the sprawling Kahawa West suburb of Nairobi County, lies the urban penitentiary of Kamiti Medium Security Prison. Housing hundreds of inmates way beyond its capacity; with the majority silently wrestling with delayed appeals, separation from loved ones and striving for redemption and a chance at a brighter future, it is here, that a beacon of hope has emerged – the Legal Aid Clinic. 

The clinic set up by Crime Si Poa in partnership with the prison administration opened its doors with a mission to provide legal assistance, training, and awareness to both inmates as well as staff. We are giving a voice to those who felt voiceless and skillset to the powerless within the justice system to enable them access justice.  

Crime Si Poa legal officer Sharon Jemutai says the clinic will help in securing expedited court dates for inmates to attend their appeal hearings. “Whereas some inmates have been wrongfully convicted and need to seek justice, others who have been found guilty need to go through the correction and rehabilitation process to rejoin society upon release as productive members. To that end, Crime Si Poa has dedicated time to assist inmates in matters related to the criminal justice system. ” Sharon says. 

Many inmates suffer due to delayed cases and appeals. They face systemic poverty induced barriers to accessing justice. “While many inmates may not be aware of their right to expeditious determination of judicial matters, limited access to legal resources and representation hampers their right to fair trial.” Sharon adds. 


According to the Kenya Prisons Service, the surge in numbers of the prison population has resulted in overcrowding and challenges in providing inmates with a conducive environment for serving their sentences and access to technical skills training that they can apply upon reintegration into society. 

Kamiti Medium Prison primarily houses inmates serving sentences of less than ten years. The bi-weekly Crime Si Poa legal awareness sessions have proved to be a big hit with measurable impact within the first month of operation. We are launching, in the first week of October, the training of 40 inmates and staff as paralegals under a Ford Foundation sponsored project. This comprehensive training will be a major boost for inmates who will be taught legal skills on self-representation and leadership, as well as staff who will not only assist the inmates for sustainability of the project, but who will also run awareness sessions amongst other officers. 

During her inaugural visit at the Prison, Permanent Secretary, State Department of Correctional Service Ms. Salome Muhia-Beacco stated that the government was working to decongest its prisons and empower the inmates through technical training and skills building that will serve them well in their communities upon their release. 

Sharon adds that Crime Si Poa is committed to growing the transformational partnership with the prison department. 

To know more about our work in prisons and how you can support, visit : Prison and Reintegration Program (Phoenix) – Crime Si Poa 


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Pomp as Justice Warriors Graduate

17th Feb 2023  

It was all pomp and jubilation at the iconic Sarakasi Dome Theater- Nairobi, as 102 Crime Si Poa Justice Warriors graduated as paralegals to lead the charge on enhanced legal awareness and empowerment in their communities. The group, which was drawn from Kibera, Mathare, Kawangware, Kamukunji, Kiambu, and Ongata Rongai sub-counties, joined another cohort of 53 inmates and prison staff already trained and graduated under the same project in the last 3 months. 

Joined by their excited family members, the cohort that was competitively picked from the underserved areas of the greater Nairobi metropolis benefitted from a month-long legal training facilitated by key players from the criminal justice sector, lawyers, university law faculty, and law enforcement agencies.  

According to Ms. Sylvia Morwabe, Programs Director at Crime Si Poa, the ‘Sheria Mashinani’ (grassroots legal empowerment, leadership, and awareness) project under our access to justice program is underpinned by the belief that communities that are legally empowered are best placed to access, demand and enhance justice and accountability in public life.  

The curriculum used for the training was developed in partnership with Strathmore University Law Clinic and with input from the Paralegal Society of Kenya training manual. It covers key areas of the Constitution and the laws of Kenya, the legal system, and how the court system in Kenya works. The main goal of the program is to ensure improved legal and rights awareness and access to justice for communities. One of the key strategies used by the program is to train the community paralegals, who can provide proximate legal assistance to those who might otherwise be unable to access justice.  

Halima Guyo, one of the graduates, noted that the training enabled her to gain more legal insights. “I have really benefited from the training, and I am now better equipped and ready to handle legal issues as I serve my Kajiado community,” she said.   

Call for paralegals to stand out in the community.  

Speakers at the graduation ceremony urged the graduates to fight for access to justice for all. “Access to justice starts with you,” said Senior Principal Magistrate Hon. Zainab Abdul who also doubled as a facilitator during the training. She emphasized that if access to justice was to be achieved for all, then the paralegals must lead from the front. “Continue fighting for communities and access to justice for it has to come from you,” said Hon. Abdul.  

Speaking on behalf of the National Police Service which had graciously provided facilitators for the training, Ms. Elizabeth Marube from the Inspector General’s office urged the graduates to go forth and be the change they want to see in their communities. She also welcomed them to partner and continue working with the National Police Service under the Community Policing Department. 

Principal Magistrate Hon. Martha Nanzushi, while representing the head of the Community Service Orders at the Judiciary, Justice Diana Mochache, welcomed the team as key partners in the implementation of Community Service Orders and alternative justice systems, especially for petty offenders. 

The Director of the Witness Protection Agency through her representative thanked and affirmed support for Crime Si Poa’s work in the criminal justice space. “I take this opportunity to thank Crime Si Poa for facilitating this training and allowing us to be part of it. Let’s continue collaborating to strengthen the criminal justice system and uphold the dignity and sanctity of life for the vulnerable,” she said.  

The chief guest’s statement which was read by Mr. Wilfred Nderitu, Senior Counsel and Board Chair, Crime Si Poa. He exhorted the paralegals to fight within moral bounds and not to be used to cause chaos in society. “Battle for just laws, fight for justice in your neighborhood with fairness, impartiality, and integrity.”

Servant leadership 

In his speech Hon. Justice Isaac Lenaola of the Supreme Court of Kenya congratulated Crime Si Poa for its work in promoting access to justice in society. Intimating the vision of Chief Justice Martha Koome on Access to Justice for social transformation, Judge Lenaola enumerated steps initiated by the judiciary, amongst them, the small claims courts’ digital filling of cases and the increased adaptation of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, which has greatly contributed to the promotion of restorative justice. He stated that all the effort is geared towards the speedy delivery of justice. He implored the graduates to stand out in their approach to justice with integrity. “Being a Community Justice Warrior demands of you, high levels of integrity, commitment, and dedication to servant leadership,” he remarked. He further stated that they should fight for the voiceless in society. “Be champions of just causes, the defenders of justice, the voices of the weak. Your communities expect you to speak up and stand in the gap for those wrongly accused and to ensure that families are not broken by injustices,” he further postulated.  

Drawing an analogy from his alma mater, Judge Lenaola urged the graduates to be selfless in their service as community paralegals. 

“Just as an aside, The Alliance High School motto was, and remains; “Strong to Serve.” I encourage you all to adopt this motto in your daily lives, and selflessly, and with integrity, serve your communities, your country, and your God, “he advised.  

Crime Si Poa and all the beneficiaries are greatly indebted to the Ford Foundation for sponsoring this highly impactful community legal training project.;text=Lack


Unleashed – The Justice Warriors in our Prisons  

Crime Si Poa has embarked on an intensive justice outreach and legal empowerment program aimed at bridging the gap in legal knowledge and awareness amongst the underserved and vulnerable members of the society. 

The first phase of the training under the Sheria Mashinani (grassroots law) project of the Access to Justice program, and targeting inmates and staff within 5 Kenyan prisons, as well as community members in Kisumu, Vihiga and Nairobi counties respectively has so far seen a record 170 beneficiaries complete the course work within the last 5 months. 

With legal aid in Kenya still largely reserved for murder suspects and child offenders, most inmates facing equally serious cases in our courts, and who previously faced injustice due to inability to afford legal representation, have since gained legal knowledge and skills that have come in handy in advancing their cases in court. 

According to Ms. Sylvia Morwabe  the Programs Director at Crime Si Poa, fairness and equity are fundamental principles on the Constitutional right to fair trial and representation and the paralegal training focuses on equipping inmates and staff with knowledge on accessing and demanding justice. 

“I appreciate the support we have received from the entire leadership of our partners, the Kenya Correctional Services and which has enabled the smooth roll-out of the project. I similarly applaud the inmates and prison staff who enrolled for the program in order to serve the wider prison population and also use the same skill set upon release.” said Sylvia. 

The trained paralegals assist their fellow colleagues in navigating the complex web that is, the justice system. Such knowledge transfer is impactful given that majority of inmates are illiterate and poor.  

“I am delighted with the training Crime Si Poa has been taking us through. It’s more impactful than I expected. I feel empowered and prepared for life after release. I would like to develop enough legal experience to be able to train my fellow inmates and other members of my community,” said John, one of the inmates’ trainees at Thika Main Prison. 

A key outcome of the project is the revelation that joint training of inmates and prison officers has greatly boosted the rehabilitation process and fostered high level of discipline and leadership among the inmates.   

“The group work and classes are excellent, and the trainers are very knowledgeable of the law. One of the most valuable things that I really enjoy from the program is the friendship that I have developed with several inmates. We get together every couple of weeks to catch up, this gives them a feeling of being loved, “said David Kamau an officer at Thika Prison for Men. 

The comprehensive training covered various topics including: appeal drafting skills, the court process, criminal procedure, Law of Evidence, community organizing, fair trial provisions and alternative dispute resolution amongst others. It also had the practical, but fun side of holding mock trails which was done as part of group work. 

“We are delighted to note that whereas some of our beneficiaries’ have used the skills learnt from the trainings to win their freedom in court, some have secured well-paying employment opportunities as a result of the training,” remarks Pete Ouko, the Executive Director at Crime Si Poa. 

As we look forward to the graduation of the latest cohort of our trainees from Thika Main and Women Prisons respectively, we call upon all legal practitioners of goodwill to consider committing some of their time to undertake pro-bono work.  

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