Prisons around the world exist to contain and rehabilitate offenders. Kenya prisons service has the key responsibility of Keeping in safe custody all prisoners placed under its care, rehabilitating, supporting reforms for social reintegration and facilitating administration of justice.
Only a small percentage of prison officers and especially those in higher ranks have the requisite skills to facilitate meaningful offender reformation and have regular opportunities for capacity development. The junior officers who have constant contact with the prisoners are less endowed with skills as they hardly get opportunities for capacity development. There is a general perception that the system favors senior officers while the junior officers are demotivated and inadequate in terms of skills to facilitate any meaningful change in prisoners. This has resulted to the development of several coping mechanisms such as alcohol and drugs abuse, trafficking of contrabands and engaging in negative work ethics among other social ills (corruption, violence, etc.)
The initial training of prison officers at the Prison Staff Training College is all about containment of offenders in safe custody. Few have opportunities to attend other trainings after the initial training. Most of them perceive Human Rights Defenders and United Nations Standard Minimum Rules of for the treatment of prisoners (UNSMR) as only protecting the rights and interest of the prisoners and being punitive towards prison officers yet they are expected to implement Prison programs aimed at bringing about positive change of offenders. There have been various reports about Human rights violation in prison. Both prisoners are go through degrading and inhuman treatment. Officers are housed in pathetic conditions. This causes stress and anger that breads violation that sometimes leads to death. Kingongo prison break in 2000 where several prisoners were killed as they tried to escape is a sample case of the magnitude of the frustrations and stress in prison.