By D Okollo
Saying that turning prison inmates into corporate labor through the prison industrial complex is beneficial, is stupid. First of all, it’ll mean all these ranches, flower firms and tea plantations, and manufacturers in industrial area that employ your relatives will lay them off as they can now access dirt cheap prison labor. It doesn’t even end there.
What follows such a move is the creation of public-private partnerships within the inmate correction facilities. So your prisons get essentially private run and in extreme cases the government sanctions the creation of private prisons. Your brothers, spouses and incarcerated relatives become chattel for the Big capital. This madness is so neoliberal that even Hillary Clinton took political heat when she hired prison labor for private use in Arkansas.
Then, what happens next is that demand for labor rises and the prosecuting infrastructure like judges, cops and prosecutors are incetivized to drag any legal issue to court and jail folks even for minor offenses and misdemeanor. Eventually you have people get handed maximum penalty for offenses, given that Big capital has to exploit them to their bones. You’ll end up with a generation of Kenyans where most males have a prison record by the time they turn 25 years. Which by the way ensures they’ll never get hired into certain security-concious, and reputation-conscious firms, professions and industries.
They won’t be done yet, because firms like GlobalTel will come in and offer prison calling services. So they’ll cut down on prison visitation but tell you not to worry since they have provided phone access to your jailed relatives. The problem is you have less facetime with your loved ones and can only access them via phones-at a premium cost of course.
Kenya’s prison population has stayed stable at 40K and growing at 1k persons per year except in 2014 when it hit 54k before dropping to 50k in 2017. With this PPP (and Dr. Wandia Njoya has written a lot about PPP) between private firms and prisons, inmate numbers will spike. Expect the current 108 facilities and 50k inmates to pretty much double/triple over the next decade. Well, it’s the 11th month of muthamaki’s last term, 49 more months to go.