Right Behind Bars: Examining the Appropriateness of Kenya’s Prison Labour Wages and Earnings Scheme
Keywords:Prisoners, Prison Labour, Paid Prison Labour, Unpaid Prison Labour, Kenyan Earnings Scheme
Sentenced inmates in Kenya are obligated to provide labour while imprisoned. This is to reduce idleness, for punishment, to enhance prisons’ cost-efficiency, and for rehabilitation. Some scholars posit that prisoners should be paid, others state that they should not, and some others recognise that they should be paid but vary between a high or low rate of payment. In Kenya, prisoners are paid for their labour at rates espoused in Section 5 of the Earnings Scheme, Kenya Prisons Service Standing Orders, 1979. The rates range between 10 and 20 cents a day. From this pay, they are to spend on necessities while in prison, send some money to their families and save some for use after their release. However, the rates are very low and based on the purposes the wages are to serve, the meagre pay is grossly incommensurate. This paper uses the concept of prison industrial complex and the human rights theory to make a case for higher pay for prison labourers. Lastly, it suggests a revision of the earnings scheme after drawing lessons from India.