WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
22 Oct 2020 | News

Innovative Approach to Supporting Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women in Kenya

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the horrific conditions in prisons across the world and has created greater urgency for implementing the reforms necessary to dramatically reduce the number of people going into prison. A new briefing paper looks at a program in Kenya that provides peer-to-peer support to women in prison and those released from detention, in order to provide them with the tools they need to succeed.

The case study on Kenya is the latest installment in a multi-part series highlighting innovative approaches to drug policy across the world. From drug sentencing reforms in the United Kingdom to Ecuador’s pardoning of low-level drug offenders, the series examines programs that serve as useful models for what a more human rights-oriented approach to drug policy and criminal justice should look like. Kenya’s Clean Start program is another example of how some governments and communities across the world are adopting innovative approaches to address issues related to women impacted by incarceration.

Clean Start is a social enterprise led by women who have been in prison in Kenya. This organization—unique for Africa—aims at restoring hope, dignity, and self-confidence to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and girls, while breaking the cycles of poverty and recidivism. The briefing paper examines how Clean Start provides support services to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and girls, through vocational training and other programs. These pre-and post-release programs support women as they return to their communities, provide livelihood opportunities for formerly incarcerated women and girls, and, according to Clean Start, have reduced recidivism rates.

Produced by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) and Dejusticia, the 17 case studies, covering ten countries, can be viewed in full here.