Behind Closed Doors
Until 2003, Lang’ata was a typical Kenyan prison – prisoners dressed in rags, ate food infested with worms, shared lice-ridden mats and were crowded into dark, dirty wards. Officers beat prisoners for tiny infractions or just for fun. Amid such conditions, women gave birth, nursed babies and even died, without much concern from the outside world. Many prisons in Kenya have changed little since, but Lang’ata, Kenya’s largest women’s prison, is different. These days interested parties from around the world come to visit Lang’ata’s tidy grounds to observe their rehabilitation and parenting programmes, built in the face of budget shortfalls that bedevil prisons across the continent.