The Judiciary department has emphased that it is time the country embarked on alternative punishments for some offenders in a bid to reduce congestion in prisons.
According to various researches, in March 2012 there were 50,000 prisoners in Kenya who were under alternative sentences whereas in Tanzania it has showed that from 2005 to 2011,the number of prisoners who fell under the category were only 3014.
This was stated yesterday in Dar es Salaam by Dar es Salaam zone Resident Magistrate Semistocles Kaijage when opening a two-day training progamme for community services and probation orders for magistrates, which attracted over 62 participants.
“It is only a matter of implementing the law so that it can officially be used….this is why such training is beneficial in trying to know how important it is, “he said.
He said alternative punishment had many benefits including reduction of congestion in prisons, reduction of prison running costs, allowing the offender to rejoin the community and providing offenders the opportunity to repay the community by doing various development assignments.
"We have to do away with negative ideas that throwing someone into prison is the only option for him or her to learn and change from the mistakes they committed," he said.
he said there was a need to institute a programme to educate people on alternative punishment, starting with magistrates.
According to Kaijage, in recent years some people have viewed outside imprisonment was not a proper punishment for criminals and preferred jail sentences as the only suitable punishment.
He however pointed out that implementation of alternative punishment had some challenges that needed to be tackled, including sensitising the public on its usefulness.
“The use of alternative sentences to punish offenders is the only solution to reducing congestion in jails,” he said.