A study by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) and the University of Oxford Death Penalty Research Unit has revealed that convicts of capital offences in Kenya fear more to be arrested and imprisoned more than extrajudicial violence.
The research titled “Living with a death sentence in Kenya: prisoners’ experience of crime, punishment and death raw” revealed that more than 60 per cent of those committing offence believe arrest and imprisonment make an offence riskier.
“When asked what made offence risky, the majority (62 per cent) of participants mentioned arrest and/or imprisonment,” the report reads.
About 13 per cent mentioned ‘mob justice’ or retaliation while a further five per cent worried about being injured, with seven per cent concerned about being killed by police.
The research that involved 682 prisoners in 12 prisons across Kenya aimed to explore the prisoners’ background and their circumstances prior to the commission of the crime including familial, employment, educational and social-economic status.
Notably, robbery and murder are prevalent crimes in the country.
The report indicates that 72 per cent of those convicted of robbery were motivated by financial gain.
“While most (72%) of those convicted of robbery was motivated by financial gain, with almost all (92%) seeing this as the likely positive outcome of offending, the motivations for murder were diverse, with almost two-thirds motivated by factors suggestive of a state of heightened emotion, including sadness, anger and fear. Half had not anticipated any positive outcomes, with others mentioning self-defence (19%), revenge (8%) and financial gain (16%) as possible benefits.”
Most of them were employed in routine occupations and in more precarious employment, for which they earn less, on average than those employed in routine occupations but charged with murder (Sh15,241 a month, compared with 24,542 for those convicted of murder).
“The motivations for murder are diverse, with half being driven by anger (27%) or provocation (23%), and another 13% being triggered by an ‘extreme emotional situation’. Perhaps not surprisingly, 17% claimed to have acted in self-defence.66 With almost two-thirds of those who committed murder stirred by a state of heightened emotion, it is crucial to ask about participants’ state of mind prior to offending.”
The study concluded that while most of those who committed robberies were motivated by financial gains and could be said to have a rational reason for criminal behaviour, their understanding of the likely or possible punishments was so low that they cannot have made a sensible risk-reward calculus.