Justice Be Our Shield and Defender: Stratizens Empowering Prisoners through Paralegal Training


The stirring words of our national anthem, “justice be our shield and defender,” resonated profoundly during the recent Paralegal Training project at Nairobi West Prison. Our mission was clear: to educate prisoners about criminal law, the criminal justice system and their rights as guaranteed by Article 51 of the Kenyan Constitution, which protects the rights of those detained, held in custody, or imprisoned. The project was executed by a dedicated team of law students, namely: Jeremy Githiga, Daniel Ngunjiri, Teddy Njagi, Peter Muturi, Ian Wachira, Miski Adan, Sagal Mohammed, Natasha Waithera, Ivan Kiriga, Samuel Musembi, Charlotte Mwathi, Ibrahim Ahmedin, Natasha Comfort, Natasha Onguko and Reagan Munene. The project, which took off on the 21st of May 2024, provided a challenging yet rewarding environment within Nairobi West Prison. Known for its strict security measures, the prison became our classroom, providing a unique and impactful setting for our educational mission.

The paralegal training program achieved several notable successes. We taught inmates the nitty gritties of criminal law, including the various components of different crimes and the judicial processes underscoring criminal procedure in Kenya. This legal awareness was geared towards helping them navigate the legal system and advocate for themselves and others. The prisoners’ enthusiasm and engagement was remarkable—they actively participated in discussions and asked numerous questions, showing an inspiring eagerness to learn.

However, as happens in all good things, it wasn’t all rosy. Our tight schedule limited the time we had to answer all the prisoners’ questions. Fortunately, courtesy of the time-management skills we had learned in our short stay at the Law Clinic, we were able to adapt and manage our time well to meet our objectives for the day. Additionally, while we provided printed notes, the inmates lacked notebooks and pens, which made it harder for them to take notes and retain the information. This lack of basic learning materials was a significant obstacle to their full participation in the training, but the inmates were witty enough to share their pens and use the blank back-pages of the printed notes as writing material.

Despite these hurdles, the paralegal training at Nairobi West Prison was a resounding success. It underscored the importance of legal education in empowering marginalized individuals and ensuring that justice serves as a shield and defender for all, including those behind bars. This experience reaffirmed our commitment to service-based learning and the transformative power of education. We hope this initiative inspires further efforts to educate and empower prisoners, fostering a more just and equitable society. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the prison administration for their support and to the inmates for their unwavering enthusiasm. This project, as pioneered by the Strathmore Law Clinic, was a significant step towards ensuring that justice truly remains our shield and defender.

Article written by Reagan Munene and Ibrahim Ahmedin

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