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Life in death row: 11 benefits, rules & processes that await Jowie in prison

Here's a glimpse into what Jowie might expect during his time as a death row prisoner.

Joseph Irungu, famously known as Jowie

Joseph Irungu, famously known as Jowie, has been sentenced to death for the murder of businesswoman Monica Kimani in 2018.

In Kenya, courts still hand out the death sentence for capital offences despite various concerns about its effectiveness and constitutionality.

However, despite being sentenced to death, convicts don’t get executed because the Supreme Court outlawed the mandatory implementation of the death penalty as a violation of human rights.


As he begins his life on death row, many questions arise about what awaits him behind bars.


1. On boarding process

Upon arrival in prison, Jowie can expect to be onboarded by being processed and being given a prison number, badge, his own set of uniforms, a bag for his other clothes and will be assigned a cell.

Inmates also go through a security check to prevent convicts from bringing contraband items in the facility

2. Integrating with generan prison population


In the past, death row convicts would be isolated from the general prison population but after years of reform, Jowie is not likely to face isolation.

Depending on the number of inmates, one can share a cell with three to five other inmates.

3. Access to work & education

Deathrow inmates are also able to access opportunities for education or work inside the prison just as other inmates. Before the reforms, death row convicts did not have that privilege.


Access to work, to ‘hobbies’ and to education are vital for prisoners’ mental health, for giving them a sense of purpose, self-respect, and motivation in their daily lives.

They may also utilize the skills and education outside prison, should their sentences be commuted and freed.

4. Prison visitations

Jowie will be allowed to have visitors just like other inmates.


In February 2024, Interior CS Kithure Kindiki reinstated prison visitation which had been halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic that started in 2020.

When a death row inmate loses their life while serving their sentence, the family is notified and allowed to bury their loved one in the manner they wish.

5. Strict routine

Prisoners have to follow a strict routine that is closely monitored by prison warders.


Every aspect of their daily life, from meal times to exercise periods, is regimented and supervised. Any deviation from this routine can result in disciplinary action.

A typical day starts with porridge for breakfast at 6:00 a.m., lunch at 10:00 a.m. and dinner by 4:00 a.m.

6. Frequent head counts

Head counts serve as vital security measures, ensuring the precise tracking of inmates within the prison system.

According to Omar Ismael, 64, a former Manyani inmate, prisoners were subjected to at least six head counts in a day.


In prison life, there are several don'ts that inmates should be aware of to avoid conflicts, disciplinary actions, or endangering themselves.

Here are some common ones:

7. Don't get involved in illegal activities

Engaging in illegal activities such as drug trafficking, extortion, or violence can lead to severe consequences, including additional criminal charges, longer sentences, or placement in solitary confinement.


8. Don't disrespect fellow inmates

Showing disrespect or hostility towards other inmates can escalate tensions and lead to conflicts or even physical altercations. It's essential to maintain a level of civility and respect towards others, regardless of differences.

9. Don't violate prison rules

Prison rules are in place for the safety and security of inmates and staff. Violating these rules, whether it's disobeying orders, hoarding contraband, or attempting to escape, can result in disciplinary actions such as loss of privileges, solitary confinement, or extended sentences.


10. Don't associate with gangs

In many prisons, gangs exert influence and control over certain areas or activities. Associating with gangs can put inmates at risk of being drawn into criminal activities, becoming targets of rival gangs, or facing retaliation for disobedience.

11. Don't antagonize prison staff

Showing disrespect or aggression towards prison staff, including correctional officers and administrative personnel, can lead to disciplinary actions and strained relationships.

It's essential to follow instructions, maintain a cooperative attitude, and address grievances through proper channels.


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