The vast majority (95 percent) of those convicted of robbery did not know that it was punishable by death.
And 86 percent of those convicted of murder did not know.
About 85 percent of the prisoners thought that it was unlikely or very unlikely that they would be arrested, and an even higher proportion (89 percent) thought it was unlikely or very unlikely that they would be imprisoned.
Only 11 percent of convicts facing death sentences had a prior conviction.
The majority, 56 percent, had been sentenced to death for robbery with violence, with 44 percent sentenced for murder.
Research by The Death Penalty Project, in partnership with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), revealed that most of these convicts were poorly educated.
The report, which was launched on Tuesday, January 24, draws on interviews with a large, stratified sample of 671 prisoners, across 12 prisons in Kenya, who have been sentenced to death, just over a quarter of whom had their sentences commuted to life.
More than 1 in 10 had never been in formal education and more than two-thirds had only completed primary school.
Only one in 10 was in permanent full-time employment.
About 79 percent of participants were in the two lowest categories of social stratification: ‘semi-routine’ or ‘routine’ occupations.
The research further revealed that their average wage was below the Kenyan minimum wage.
Most prisoners (89 percent) were responsible for supporting dependents, while more than a third were in debt.
Almost half (43 percent) said that they had been relying on alcohol and almost a third had a history of alcohol or substance misuse, higher rates than the national average.
The report further shows that 15 percent reported that they had been experiencing mental health problems, higher than the national average.
The majority (72 percent) of those convicted of robbery with violence were motivated by financial gain.
“The necessary preconditions for being deterred from committing capital crimes were not met in most of our cases and so these prisoners could not have been deterred from offending,” the report shows.
“Only one percent thought it likely or very likely that they would be sentenced to death. The majority were not worried about being sentenced to death,” the report shows.
There are currently approximately 600 prisoners on death row in Kenya.
There are many more who have been sentenced to death over the past decades, but whose death sentences have been commuted to life imprisonment.